What's All this Lettter of St. James Stuff - Holy Trinity Catholic Church
What’s All This Letter of St. James Stuff Anyhow? Why This Overview of St. James? Good question. Beginning in October we will enter the “Year of Faith” declared by Pope Benedict XVI. As part of the faith formation at Holy Trinity we (Fr. Jim, Deacon Mike and myself) decided that we would try to help the parish engage Sacred Scripture through different means and offerings. This bulletin insert is one of those methods. As we progress through the Holy Year, I will attempt to summarize readings from Sacred Scripture when we encounter them in successive Sunday readings, such as the five weeks of excerpts from St. James. I will not treat the four Gospels as they are the primary subject of most homilies. Note that I have provided cross references to the Sunday readings from Sacred Scripture. Please try to take some time to peruse those cross references to obtain a better appreciation for the consistency of the Bible. Finally, I hope this one page summary sheet will be helpful to many of you. All passages are taken from the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). I welcome and invite feedback! – Deacon Jerry Background of the Letter of St. James: FROM THE DESK OF DEACON JERRY Current scholarship attributes this letter to either an anonymous disciple of James, the brother of John, or James, the ‘brother of the Lord’ and written around 60AD. It is one of the ‘catholic’ epistles, those epistles not written by St. Paul, and it is addressed to Jewish and Gentile Christians of the dispersion. It is part of the canon of the 27 books of the New Testament though it wasn’t highly regarded by Martin Luther because he thought it contradicted Paul’s teaching on faith and righteousness. The letter primarily consists of moral or ethical exhortations. It is not a very structured letter but rather jumps around from one idea or lesson to another. In this way it is very reminiscent of Hebrew Wisdom literature such as the Book of Wisdom or Sirach. The intended audience was quickly falling under the influence of the cultures surrounding them and they were forgetting their Christian principles. For this reason, James remains a very relevant letter for Christians today everywhere. Readings from the Letter of St. James proclaimed at the Sunday Masses during September, 2012 (Cycle B): 22 nd Sunday - James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27 “Dearest brothers and sisters: all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows * in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world. “ Summary: Reflect with thanksgiving for being called by the Lord into his family. Great ideas and plans are one thing, doing them is another. Just do the small things and they will be great. (cf. Mt 7:26; Rom 2:13) 23 rd Sunday – James 2:1-5 “My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 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, 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,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? 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?” Summary: Christians are to care for the poor and not give preference to the wealthy because God loves all people regardless of health, social status or education. (cf Acts 10:34-35; Col 3:25; 1Pt 1:17) 24 th Sunday – James 2:14-18 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.