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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 3, 13-18

Anyone who is wise or understanding among you should from a good life give evidence of deeds done in the gentleness of wisdom.

But if at heart you have the bitterness of jealousy, or selfish ambition, do not be boastful or hide the truth with lies;

this is not the wisdom that comes from above, but earthly, human and devilish.

Wherever there are jealousy and ambition, there are also disharmony and wickedness of every kind;

whereas the wisdom that comes down from above is essentially something pure; it is also peaceable, kindly and considerate; it is full of mercy and shows itself by doing good; nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it.

The peace sown by peacemakers brings a harvest of justice.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

"Who is wise and understanding among you?" The Word of God, whether an open way or not, always questions those who listen to it. This is what James does when he invites his readers to examine themselves concerning their wisdom and their behaviour. True wisdom and honest intelligence are measured by one's actions. Especially those with responsibility in government must not take advantage of their position, but must demonstrate wisdom in all they do. James insists: it is not "fleshly" wisdom that makes individual and communal life beautiful and well-ordered. That sort of wisdom is rooted in the "diabolic" spirit; it divides brothers and sisters because it is founded on jealousy and bickering. "Bitter envy and selfish ambition" often animate our society and sometimes even ecclesial realities. The Venerable Bede writes, "Paul himself says, ‘those who are unspiritual, do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit’ (1 Cor 2:14). Wisdom that is contentious and proud is rightly called earthly, animal, and diabolical, because as long as the soul seeks earthly glory it is deprived of spiritual grace and thinks only of the things that have come to it naturally ever since the original sin." The "wisdom that comes from above," from God, is different. It urges the believer to do God’s loving will, and it seeks not to exalt itself but only to fulfil the words of the Gospel. James enumerates the seven characteristics of wisdom according to God: it is pure and without hypocrisy, it is peaceful and indulgent, it is merciful and brings peace, and it is rich with good fruits. The first characteristic ("pure") which is also defined as "without hypocrisy" here signifies honesty towards others and opposes falseness that causes so much evil. The first of the adjectives describes a way of living with others characterized by sincerity and love. We remember the hymn to love in chapter thirteen of the first letter to the Corinthians. Only in this way can we live the true peace that produces justice. In conclusion, Christians are wise when they imitate Jesus who is humble and gentle of heart. How many times we see right answers or the ability to evaluate life deeply! James helps us ask for hope that comes from above, that remains incomprehensible to the wise of this world and is revealed to the simple because it is the wisdom of the heart. The Apostle Paul says much the same thing when he exhorts the Corinthians, "If you think you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1 Cor 3:18-19).

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets