Reflection and Prayer for Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity – 23rd September 2018 (Proper 20)

This material was first published by Redemptorist Publications
and is included here with their permission.

 “The battle within”

James 3.13-4.3,7-81

James has been telling us to take care that the things we do and the words we speak reflect our faith in God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Now he turns his attention to the thoughts and feelings within us that lead to harmful speech and behaviour.

He knows that as long as we cling on to jealousy, envy, greed and anger we will be at their mercy and they will drag us towards disputes and conflicts.

But if we find it difficult to control our words and actions, how much more difficult will it be to control the harmful feelings and thoughts that seem to creep up on us before we have a chance to withstand them?

James recognises that we do often have a battle going on within us between “wisdom from above” and “earthly, unspiritual, devilish” wisdom. The way James describes the “fruits” of “wisdom from above” gives us a picture of how a life lived according to that wisdom will look like. It will be gentle, merciful, peace loving and will carry great integrity – very different from the lives of conflict, violence and dissatisfaction which spring from the “unspiritual” wisdom.

James also recognises that in our own strength we cannot withstand the “devilish” wisdom. We need to place ourselves in God’s hands and when we do turn towards God we will find that he is already at our side, walking with us along the way with love and mercy for which we give him thanks.

Lord Jesus, you faced inner turmoil and temptation in the wilderness and in Gethsemane and overcame them in order to do your Father’s will. By your Holy Spirit strengthen us in our struggles, guide us with your loving wisdom and bless us with your presence along the way. Amen