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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

James 1, 12-18

Blessed is anyone who perseveres when trials come. Such a person is of proven worth and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Never, when you are being put to the test, say, 'God is tempting me'; God cannot be tempted by evil, and he does not put anybody to the test .

Everyone is put to the test by being attracted and seduced by that person's own wrong desire.

Then the desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches full growth, it gives birth to death.

Make no mistake about this, my dear brothers:

all that is good, all that is perfect, is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow caused by change.

By his own choice he gave birth to us by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all his creation.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

James writes about one of the many blessings in Scripture. It is perseverance during times of trial that receives then the "crown of life". Also, Jesus was tempted by evil, until the last temptation that the bystanders and the thief crucified with him would yell at him, "Save yourself!" Jesus is the first who receives the crown of life and does not abandon us when tempted, as we ask in the Our Father. The author of the letter writes that endurance during a test will lead to "the crown of life." The Apostle Paul extols the greatness of the crown of glory when he presents it to the Corinthians: "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Cor 2:9). God does not send the difficulties and temptations that Christians, along with everybody else, have to face in life. The Letter from James explains this with the utmost clarity: "God tempts no one". Besides, we already know from the Gospel that God is a good Father who rains down good things on both good and bad people. God even sent His only Son to save us from death and sin. Also, a more precise translation of the Our Father says "do not abandon us when tempted" rather than "do not lead us in temptation," for the Lord does not lead men and women into temptation. The root of temptation, therefore, is not found in God, but in people. How many times we hear - and how many times we share this thought - that evil comes from God. From a god who is not caring enough to defend us. James reminds that it is not God who "tempts us", on the contrary he is the One who gives us strength and wisdom to defeat the enemy who wants to divide people from God and among themselves. Evil springs from a heart that gives in to passions, that is to self-love. If we give in to passions that lure and entice us, we will fall into sin, like Cain who was not able "to dominate his instinct" and ended up killing his brother. Jesus reminds us that evil does not come from outside but from the heart, and this is the reason we need to change. Not all that comes from us is good. Instinct often deceives us. We do not resist anything as we are dragged by passions to which we give in easily, without thinking. Evil is never innocuous and it is not healthy believing that we can control passions or sin by ourselves, for as James efficaciously writes, they pull us and not the contrary. Sometimes we foolishly think that we can dominate evil, to control it as well as many habits, thoughts and traditions that we think we can contain in our hearts but then in fact they dominate us. The letter reminds us, however, that if it is true that the instinct to think only of ourselves is strong, then it is also possible to entrust ourselves to the Lord so as to resist and overcome evil’s assaults against us. The father of light is not uncertain, doubting or loving second-thoughts as if they were expression of depth and complexity. The Father does not have variations or shadow of change despite the many delusions from human beings. James assures us that God, who created heaven and earth, effusively lavishes people with gifts; and, above all, God brings us into being with "the word of truth." We could say that preaching the word of God is like the maternal principle that gives birth to a new life. Along this same line, the Apostle Paul affirms, "Faith comes from what is heard." And the Christians, James writes, are like the firstborn children of God, the seed of a new creation. It is easy to forget that we are a first-fruit, which is something that has in itself all that is to be manifested. Christians do not represent life, per se, and not even their own vocation. They are first-fruit, which is a reality that is meaningful for those who are nearby us. How many times people can see in Christians’ promises that will be revealed fully in the future kingdom. And isn’t it a commitment to embody it even more so that many may start seeing the first-fruit of the kingdom of love that the Son came to proclaim to the world?

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets