Know this, my dear brothers and sisters:everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for anger does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.
Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts; such a one shall be blessed in what he does.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
The first reading this morning sounds so Ignatian to me. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only… not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts; such a one shall be blessed in what he does.” In his introduction to the Contemplation on the Love of God in the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius says “love ought to show itself in deeds even more than in words.” This reading from James certainly reinforces that! Those who call Ignatian spirituality their home are called to be Contemplatives in Action. Our reflection calls us to action.
So I reflect on the question, to what actions am I being called right now, this day? What wounded relationship is waiting for me to take the first step of reconciliation and love? What combination of words and actions will lead to healing and fullness of life? How might I get beyond my very limited and stingy sense of love to actually act and speak with God’s infinite, unconditional and pure love?
I am also reminded of a wise saying attributed to Mother Teresa, “there is no such thing as a small act of love.” Every act of love, even a seemingly small one, is a big deal because it makes God’s presence in the world known to the people God puts in our lives. Think of it as the continuing incarnation of God. This is the work of Jesus which he calls each of us to complete.
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits