This material was first published by Redemptorist Publications
and is included here with their permission.
“Living out the Royal Law”
James now speaks to us of the life of an early Christian community. It’s a community where people share the sorrows and joys of life. There are times for upbeat songs of praise and for prayer for those who are suffering. There are elders who are able to pray and anoint the sick with oil, a ministry that continues in the church today.
Members of the community also confess their sins to one another. It’s worth reflecting for a while on the fact that James follows his exhortation to confess with another then to pray for healing and he gives us the assurance that God will forgive us. James understands human nature and for our need for healing when our broken lives send us off on harmful paths.
Finally James gives us responsibility for one another on our journey of faith. Jesus spoke of a shepherd who went out to look for the one sheep that was lost and James encourages us to be shepherds for each other. This isn’t about nagging each other into coming to church more frequently but about supporting each other in times of struggle when God seems a long way away and we feel forsaken and lost.
James’ letter is a strong reminder that we do not follow Jesus in isolation. Our faith has to be lived out in community with others and at the heart of that lived-out faith is the “royal law”: “love your neighbour as yourself”.
Lord Jesus, you commanded your disciples to love one another as you loved them. Help us to obey your command with love and joy so that the faith we proclaim with our lips may be shown by the love in our lives to your praise and glory. Amen.