Jas 2:14-24, 26
Scholars wonder who wrote the Letter of James and when it was written, but you can’t miss its overriding message that “faith without works is dead.” It’s not enough to hear the word of God, be “doers of the word,” the author of the letter says. Be practically concerned for others.
What does it mean to be practically concerned? The Letter of James couldn’t be clearer in describing it:
“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?”
Kind words and wishes aren’t enough. When people are hungry or cold or sick or without shelter, you have to do something for them. If you really hear God, that’s what God says to do.
Though the letter speaks of “a brother or a sister” as the one in need, it isn’t just a family member or a friend you’re called to care for. Concern doesn’t end with your own; it’s impartial and extends to all in need, even our enemies.
The letter surely isn’t directed only to concern by individuals either. Don’t countries and communities have to look out for the needy? “Don’t worry, work hard, aim high and good luck.” Is that any answer to the poor among us?
The Letter of James would say it isn’t.
- Father Victor Hoagland, C.P.