Reflection and Prayer for Proper 18 – Year B 14th Sunday after Trinity (Epistle of James)

“Faith in our hearts”

James 2.1-10,(11-13), 14-17

To read and reflect on the letter of James is to enter into an exploration of what it means to live out the faith we claim to hold. His motto might be “actions speak louder than words” and he says that, no matter what we claim to believe, the way we live our lives will reveal what’s really in our hearts. James is urging followers of Jesus to forsake hypocrisy and build up their integrity so that they truly live out the “royal law”: “love your neighbour as yourself.”

It’s no good, says James, claiming that we consider everyone to be equal and no-one gets special treatment if in fact we do favour the rich, the famous and the influential. Somewhere in our hearts, whatever we say, we still believe that these distinctions should be made.

It’s not enough, says James, to encourage someone to “be of good cheer” when they’re down on their luck and their lives are in pieces. We need to take action to help them re-build and recover.

James’ letter challenges us to look honestly at the way we treat each other and the community in which we live. That could be a very uncomfortable process but James isn’t trying to make us comfortable. He believes passionately that if we truly believe in “our glorious Lord Jesus Christ” then that belief will flow from our hearts to become love in action in a world that surely needs active healing and dynamic love.

Lord Jesus, you showed us the love of God in action. You reached across divisions of race and status to bring healing and to restore those on the fringes of society. By your Holy Spirit let our faith in you be transformed into actions of love and service to others. Amen.