Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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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 1,19-27

Remember this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to human anger; God's saving justice is never served by human anger; so do away with all impurities and remnants of evil. Humbly welcome the Word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. But you must do what the Word tells you and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves. Anyone who listens to the Word and takes no action is like someone who looks at his own features in a mirror and, once he has seen what he looks like, goes off and immediately forgets it. But anyone who looks steadily at the perfect law of freedom and keeps to it -- not listening and forgetting, but putting it into practice -- will be blessed in every undertaking. Nobody who fails to keep a tight rein on the tongue can claim to be religious; this is mere self-deception; that person's religion is worthless. Pure, unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father, is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows in their hardships, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

"Be doers of the word." With this statement the Apostle picks up the thought of the previous passage. It highlights that those who listen reflect when they speak, (this is what "slow to speak" means), and thus dominate the instinct that easily leads to anger. Indeed, how often is wrath the direct consequence of the inability to listen and speak only after reflecting. There is a direct relationship between the readiness to listen to the Gospel and responsibility in speaking with others: those who understand the power of the word are undoubtedly more attentive to the words they speak. The word that does not arise from a heart not forged by the Gospel easily harms those who listen. For this reason, even those who think themselves pious are urged to rein in their tongues. Jesus too warned the disciples that God would take into account every useless word they uttered (cfr. Mt 12:36). James then urges us to "welcome with meekness the implanted word." Believers must accept the Word of God by letting it work in the heart without hindering it with pride, distractions, and coldness. James clarifies what the "docile" acceptance of the Gospel means: to be practitioners of the Word and not simply listeners. The Word of God is the mirror of our life. It is not enough to look at a moment and immediately forget. We must seek our truest and most human image by always measuring ourselves against the Word of God. True faith, authentic religiosity, in fact, lie not in the abstraction of speeches but in the concreteness of love that begins with the helping of orphans and widows, keeping ourselves "immaculate", that is, not polluted by pride and love for ourselves. Orphans and widows were numerous in the society of the time and were considered among the poorest, as the books of the First Testament attest. They are the image of the poor. James stresses, however, that there is a link between keeping language in check and concern for the poor. Listening to the Word and compassion for the poor characterize our faith. The "pure religion", the one that connects human beings with God, is realized in a love that does not remain abstract, but becomes attentiveness to the Gospel and concrete commitment with those who most need love, the poor.