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Pure Religion

15 Feb

All this week and into next week we are treated in the sacred liturgy to selections from the Letter of St. James. While there is some debate concerning “which James” this is, most consider this to be St. James the Lesser, the son of Alphaeus, one of the Apostles and the Bishop of Jerusalem–not to mention a close relative of the Lord Himself (see Gal. 1:19)!┬áSo clearly this teaching is not only inspired by the Holy Spirit, but also comes from a most revered leader in the early Church.

Mindful of this, let us ponder the inspiring words from today’s reading, taken from James 1:19-27:

Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger for anger does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess and 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. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts; such a one shall be blessed in what he does.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. 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.