O LORD, from whom all good things do come; Grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Readings below: St. James i. 22, St. John xvi. 23
In our Gospel message, Jesus assured his disciples that whatever they might ask in his name, the Father would give them. What shall we ask? Our collect gives us a perfect example. In it the worshiper asks that God would inspire us to think things that are Good and then through the guidance of God to do that Good - that is: "Be ye doers of the word"
St. James in the epistle admonishes his listeners that simply hearing, and agreeing with the Word while you nominally participate in worship is an empty faith - worse, it is vanity because you suppose yourself to be something other than you are. No, he says that true religion is in the daily walk with Jesus as we journey through this life and taking some action. The operative word here in St. James is DO! True religion is in the doing. Keep his commandments close to your heart and seek his will in all you DO. St. James summarizes his admonition by giving two separate examples of "pure religion." First, serve those who are in need. Second, keep yourself from being contaminated by the evils of this world.
In thinking of this passage, I appreciate the way professional people speak of practicing their professions in accordance with the various laws and creeds that they have. They, in their endeavors, encounter new and challenging situations that have no clear-cut answers. They must use their talents to try to find solutions, while at the same time adhering to their professional standards. Likewise, Christians are called upon to practice their faith. Our code is the Summary of the Law, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul and mind, and .... thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"
Do: The motto of the Order, from St. Peter's statement in Acts Chapter 10, is "Fear God and Do What is Right". The Order uses the Latin from the Vulgate translation of the Bible "Timet Deus et Operatur Iustitiam." The Latin word used here for "do" is "operatur". It sounds a lot like our English word of operate, or operation; that is to "work" or "do", likewise the Vulgate word for "right" is Iustitiam, which sound a lot like our "justice" and the adverb "justly". So how can you practice your faith every day? By always striving to DO the Right thing. By treating your neighbor in the same way as you would like to be treated: fairly and justly. In doing this work, St. James tells us we will be blessed in our deeds. He also give us an example of what we should not do: gossip. He says that a man who seems religious, but "bridleth not his tongue", is one who's religion is in vain.
Look into the perfect law of liberty The Summary of the Law is a part of the Order's Rule and Vow. It is the perfect law of liberty. By following the Summary of the Law that Jesus gave us, we are freed to do his will. As Jesus said in several places, the Pharisees practiced all the special rules they had invented to complement the Law, and in the process, failed to follow the Spirit of the Law. Jesus promised to write the Law on the hearts of his followers so that they could live faithfully without a heavy burden of liturgical rules.
...and continueth therein St. James says that the believers must continue in the faith. It is not enough to confess it and go one's way. We must abide in the Body of Christ, being continually renewed in the Word, sacraments, and fellowship of the saints. In the Order our Rule calls for us to Pray without ceasing, that is to remain in constant communion with our Lord. In following this Rule, we will indeed "continueth therein."
St. James i. 22.
BE ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
St. John xvi. 23.
VERILY, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
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