READINGS for 2006-02-16
THE GREAT DIVIDE
? have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? ? James 2:4
Picture this: At your prayer meeting, a senator arrives. He is well-dressed, surrounded by an entourage and has taken time out from his busy schedule to join you in worship. At the same time, a former barangay captain of a poor community comes to your gathering. He is shabbily dressed and would have smelled better if he had taken a bath before coming. Now tell me, wouldn?t it be natural to fuss over the senator and reserve for him the best seat in the house? And I wouldn?t be surprised if the barangay captain got little or no attention from the greeters. I?m sure nobody would have objected. But what?s natural isn?t exactly what the Bible teaches. In our reading today, James criticizes those who are guilty of making class distinctions. ?Judging a man by his wealth shows that you are guided by wrong motives,? he writes in The Living Bible version. He goes on to say that it is a sin to show partiality to the rich. I must confess that I am guilty of this. I have light years to go when it comes to loving the poor. And yet these are the people that the Lord has a bias for. Rissa S.
What can you do to show your love for the poor?
Dear Jesus, teach me to love You through the poor.
Jesus does not permit us to make distinctions as to various classes of people. It is irrelevant to the dignity of the individual if they are rich or poor. The critical point is that he or she is a person and, as such, demands the same respect as the next one. Jesus associated with the religious leaders, the tax collectors, the sinners and the saints. We should do the same! If we do not, how will the Gospel go out to all men and women?
1 My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 2 For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ?Sit here, please,? while you say to the poor one, ?Stand there,? or ?Sit at my feet,? 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? 6 But you dishonored the poor person. Are not the rich oppressing you? And do they themselves not haul you off to court? 7 Is it not they who blaspheme the noble name that was invoked over you? 8 However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, ?You shall love your neighbor as yourself,? you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
P S A L M
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
R: The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
1  I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. 2  Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad. (R) 3  Glorify the LORD with me, let us together extol his name. 4  I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. (R) 5  Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame. 6  When the poor man called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him. (R)
G O S P E L
Who do you say that Jesus is? Perhaps it might be instructive to look at your answer to this question from two different vantage points. The first answer that you will give is the one that comes from your intellect. This is well and good. However, you may also give an answer based on the focus of your life. If the world and worldly things are the focal point of our actions then we might have a long way to go before we are fully converted to the answer that our minds will present.
27 Now Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, ?Who do people say that I am?? 28 They said in reply, ?John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.? 29 And he asked them, ?But who do you say that I am?? Peter said to him in reply,? ?You are the Messiah.? 30 Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. 31 He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. 32 He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, ?Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.?
God?s special verse/thought for me today_______________________
thank You Lord for: ______________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Deuteronomy 10-12
CHRIST IN US
St. James warns us against making distinctions or judging a person by his material possessions, and thereby showing special favor to the rich, at the expense of the poor. We all stand equal before God. It is God who makes us equal to one another, neither rich nor poor but all creatures, sinners... yet loved beyond all telling.
When Jesus asked His disciples who the people say He was they gave Him different reports. Peter unified all their various answers. Jesus is the Christ. In Matthew?s
As Jesus possesses all the elements of the Christ in His unified person, we, as followers of Jesus, should bring into ourselves every person without distinction. We are to be agents of unity, not diversity. There is wealth and poverty existing in every individual soul. There is no point favoring the rich as if we are not poor ourselves. There is no point feeling inferior on account of our poverty as if we are not rich in some sense. Thus, wealth and poverty find themselves united in our individual personhood.
This is one reason why to be a disciple of Jesus is to learn from His Paschal Mystery. To become like Jesus, we must like the cross. To run away from the cross of discipleship is to divert from the way of Jesus. One who diverts from Jesus is a ?satan,? a tempter. Peter learnt this the shameful way. But he learnt it nonetheless. In an account in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, Peter had to learn this lesson again when he showed partiality toward the Jews against the gentile converts. He had to be reminded of his lesson through Paul, the Apostle.
If Jesus is the Christ for us, we would truly see, recognize, love and serve Him in everyone, rich and poor alike. He is in everyone. Christ is honored in each of us by the honor we give to one another. Fr. Bobby T.
May I witness your love to others.
St. Onesimus, martyr, pray for us
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