Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

James 4,1-10

Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Is it not precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you lack it; so you kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force. It is because you do not pray that you do not receive; when you do pray and do not receive, it is because you prayed wrongly, wanting to indulge your passions. Adulterers! Do you not realise that love for the world is hatred for God? Anyone who chooses the world for a friend is constituted an enemy of God. Can you not see the point of the saying in scripture, 'The longing of the spirit he sent to dwell in us is a jealous longing.'? But he has given us an even greater grace, as scripture says: God opposes the proud but he accords his favour to the humble. Give in to God, then; resist the devil, and he will run away from you. The nearer you go to God, the nearer God will come to you. Clean your hands, you sinners, and clear your minds, you waverers. Appreciate your wretchedness, and weep for it in misery. Your laughter must be turned to grief, your happiness to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

James' words describe the tragic fruits of false wisdom. The desire to possess is so dangerous that it leads to killing. Envy leads to fighting one another. The narcissism of a navel gazing community deprives prayer of its strength: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly." Whoever allows themselves to be led by the spirit of this world removes themselves from God-to the point of hating him, notes James. And they commit real adultery. Jesus teaches us how to be before God and before our fellow brothers and sisters: "Learn from me that I am meek and humble of heart." (Mt 11:29) To humble oneself before the Lord means recognizing one's misery and sin: "Lament and mourn and weep," writes James. Whoever has this spirit knows how to draw close to the Lord, and while they do, they discover that the Lord has already come close to them, to touch their hearts and save them. Recognizing our debt to God helps us recognize what we owe in love to our brothers and sisters. James puts us on alert for bad speech, quarrelling, hateful judgment, defamation and slander: all of which is born from our removal from God and, often, from the diabolic temptation to take his place or at least to put ourselves the centre of everything. We know how easy it is to judge, to look for the beam in someone's eye. James clearly says to whoever falls foolishly into this prideful and scornful attitude: "But who are you to judge your neighbour?" And he reminds us that the love of God and of neighbour is the essence of the Law and the way of salvation. We are free to love always, so that it frees us from the prison of judgment which poisons our hearts and often deforms and distances the other and makes us unable to love one another.