James 3:16-4:6 I hope you have been reading the letter of James this week. As I said, he does not pull his punches.
The section we heard today concerns the wisdom of God verses the wisdom of the world.
The first part of chapter 3 concerns the way we talk to God and to each other. James says the tongue is a fire, and can set fires wherever it goes! The same tongue that blesses our God and Lord, curses men, who are made in the image of God.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.
It’s the kind of wisdom we heard in the first reading today.
James tells it as he sees it. The wisdom of God is true and good. The wisdom of the world is false and evil. The wisdom of God is pure and peaceable, gentile, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.
In order to have a good Christian community, James tells his readers, that we must live at peace with each other.
That’s not always easy, is it? As with everything in Christianity, it’s seems against human nature to live peaceably with everyone.
Our nation is constantly embroiled in controversy, protests, and violence. We have a fair amount of conflict in our small community, as well. When I ride along with the police, there are always reports of domestic disturbances and other conflicts between residents. This is due to the wisdom of the world, my friends.
James tells us that the wisdom from above, that is from our Father in heaven, is different. It is a wisdom of peace, gentleness, and mercy.
It is wisdom that reflects the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as named by St. Paul in the letter to the Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This wisdom from above is available to everyone through the grace of God the Holy Spirit.
James says, rather harshly,
We want something that we don’t have, so we kill for it.
We covet something that belongs to someone else, so we fight for it, and wage war.
We do not have good things because we don’t ask.
We ask, but we don’t receive, because we are asking for the wrong things. Instead we want things that make us feel better, or give us entertainment.
We are being unfaithful to God, because we want the things of this world, instead of the things of God.
We all know someone that fits this description. This person has plenty of stuff already, yet covets what does not belong to him.
So instead of asking, he takes what he wants through fraud and defamation. And all the while he smiles at you and calls you his brother.
The wisdom from above, on the other hand, is transmitted to us through the Vine, which is Jesus Christ.
In the Gospel of St. John, chapter 15, Jesus said,
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
We must stayed connected to the vine, or we will cut ourselves off from the vital spiritual food and drink of our Lord. At our baptism, we are grafted onto the Vine, and we are plugged into this body, which is the church.
And as the Church, the Body of Christ we come together faithfully to hear the word of the Lord, and to have that shared sacrificial meal with God our Father.
I am ready to be done with the wisdom of this world, as all it has done is bring misery to everyone.
I am ready to receive the wisdom of God our Father, and to live in accordance with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, taking up my cross to follow the Son our Lord.
When we do this we enkindle the hope of everlasting life. I want to see my Lord face to face. I want to see all of my loved ones that have passed into eternal life. I know you do, too.
Keep your hope in the promise of our Lord, and we will see him together. Amen.