September 19, 2021, The 25th Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)
The tie in between today’s readings: Pride vs. Humility
The Bible shows us that God is all about relationships. The Almighty is concerned with our standing with Him and how we treat each other. In today’s readings, we see three kinds of people: the atheist who doesn’t know God, the churchgoer who thinks he knows God, and those that God knows. Let’s look at the categories, see where the shoe fits, and find out how a believer should react.
In the book of Wisdom, we see how an atheist thinks. Because he believes that there is no God, then life is meaningless. Eat! Drink! And be merry for tomorrow we die! He is wise in his own eyes because he mocks the unproven superstitions of religion. Instead, he embraces the gospel of Star Trek. He is tolerant to everyone except the religious person who holds to absolutes concerning right and wrong. By their very existence they condemn the atheist’s world view without a word. Short of inventing a god-o-meter, the only thing a righteous person can do is to live with integrity! A life filled with solid reasoning, care for others, and solid prayer; this is a spiritual battle worth fighting (Psalm 54).
The person who thinks that he knows God is self-deceived: a Pharisee. It’s all pride! (I must be careful at this stage because I may be one of these people myself.) This person keeps God in a container between his ears. He remakes the Almighty in his own image. He believes all that he wants is good and prays to God the genie to rubberstamp his desires. We know that this is true because of today’s epistle. James is taking the CHURCH to task because of their self-centered carnality. The gospel reading also touches on it when the apostles argue over who is the greatest among them. James gives the remedy to this situation. He tells us to reject our pride, confess our sins, and submit to God (James 4:6-10). You have to see yourself as the Pharisee before you can confess as the tax collector.
A relationship with God turns our world upside down. The greater serves the lesser. The first shall be last. When you think that you are really something…you’re nothing. That’s why we need to be like children before Him. We have to see ourselves as having no rights, no strength, and maybe a little dumb. We have no hope in ourselves and nothing to offer but dependency and trust to the One who can take care of us. When He does accept us in His beloved Son, He gives us His Spirit, which then leads us to call God our Father. Just as child plays dress up with their parents’ clothes, we show that we love Him; more importantly, that we are in love with Him, by imitating Him. Whoever loves God is known by God. It doesn’t get any better than that.