What short readings we have for mass today. It’s like we’ve been put on a bit of a diet when it comes to the scriptures. There isn’t nearly as much food for thought as usual. However, some of the saints reflected on every single word of the Our Father Prayer, one word at a time and never failed to learn even more from these words, every time they prayed them. The volume of words really have nothing to do with the depth of their meaning.
The first reading for mass today from the Letter of Saint James is a warning to those who make elaborate plans that they may or may not be able to complete. Our lives are really in the Lord’s care and it is up to Him what we do with our lives. However, our lives should not be wasted. What we do matters. What we don’t do matters too. There is no such thing as an uninvolved life. Even by not making choices, we make a choice.
Saint James writes in today’s first reading, “So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.”
Amen, Saint James. He tells it like it is. That’s the thing about Saint James, he doesn’t mince his words but gets right to the point. If you have a problem with his words, then you are the one that has the problem. The truth hurts. That doesn’t mean we should not speak the truth though. This is the problem with many Catholics. We are afraid to hurt anyone’s feelings. It is unchristian to call attention to something that is wrong, because it could offend someone. It is a fine art, to learn how to speak the truth in charity. Not all of us have learned how to do that very well, but it still doesn’t excuse us from speaking the truth, however imperfectly we may do so.
This verse in today’s scripture, “So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin,” is actually enough words to think about for the rest of the day. There is much truth in these words. In fact, this is one of the hardest things to do in the christian life and it is something that we instinctively want to shy away from. This is the case in personal relationships with one another, but is also true on a much grander scale, like the laws of our country.
When a thing is wrong, it’s wrong. Period. Dot. It doesn’t matter how high up the person is on the scale of power because even kings and presidents do things that are wrong. King Henry had Saint Thomas More put to death because King Henry didn’t want Saint Thomas to publicly oppose his annulment, and try to tell him it would be adultery for him to ditch his wife and marry another. Their marriage was valid, however much King Henry didn’t want it to be though. When a thing is wrong, it’s wrong and Saint Thomas More died for his beliefs, his principles that were founded on the gospel. He was justified in doing so. King Henry did go on to marry several other women and split off and formed his own church because he didn’t like it when they told him what he was doing was wrong. Saints are not made with the “go along and get along” mentality. If a person doesn’t believe in something, he will fall for anything.
We won’t even get into the holocaust very much, because we do not know how we ourselves, would have reacted if we had been in the German people’s shoes. Their people as a whole may not have had all the facts. However, there were numerous people who did, and they did not do the right thing, but allowed a great evil to exist because they ignored the truth. Six million Jews died because of the many people who “knew the right thing to do and did not do it”. There were also many heroes, that risked their own lives to try and do the right thing, by hiding some of their Jewish brothers and sisters in their homes, to protect them from this very great evil.
In the gospel today, Jesus told his disciples basically, that it was ok that someone not from their group was doing mighty deeds in his name. This man sounds like a wild weed that grew up on it’s own but blossomed and bore some awesome fruit for the Lord, independent from the carefully cultivated flowers of the Lord’s close disciples. This again, proves that independence is not always a bad thing. Jesus even endorsed it sometimes.
The disciples wanted this man to stop driving out demons in Christ’s name because he hadn’t been taught properly by the Lord first. But Jesus said, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.”
It’s ok to not go along with the crowd sometimes, and do what everyone else is doing. In fact, sometimes to think for yourself and act on it, is the right thing to do.
Daily Mass Readings:
Jas 4: 13-17 / Ps 49: 2-3, 6-7, 8-10, 11 / Mark 9: 38-40