For our first reading today, we begin the Letter of St. James. James is one of those books in the Bible that it would be very good for us to be very familiar with. In the Gospel reading today from Mark 8, the Pharisees come to Jesus demanding a sign be given them. Jesus responds, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
James starts out his epistle with what may be one of the hardest sayings in the Scriptures to put into practice in our lives. “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials…” Excuse me? You mean when cancer strikes or a relationship falls apart or someone we love dies...this is joy? Yes, actually. This is exactly the message of Christ. Remember in the Beatitudes where He talked about rejoicing and being glad when people persecute us and call us names and abuse us for the sake of His name? Yep, same principle.
I don’t really think anyone likes hardship and trials. Truth be told, we try to steer clear of them, don’t we? But they will come along naturally when we just walk with Christ. When they do come along, we shouldn’t kvetch and moan. Accept them, ask what we are supposed to learn and move on. Bring on the joy!
Father, you know how we so assiduously avoid trials and suffering. Help us to count them as joy and to learn lessons from all that we encounter. Amen.
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