Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

(James 1:1-11; Mark 8:11-13)

In his recently issued letter Porta Fidei (the door of faith) Pope Benedict asks Catholics to push back against the trend of secularism. The letter calls for a year of faith, beginning this October, in which the Church is to celebrate the joy faith bestows and to publicly testify to its value. The Pope sees the need for such an event because many people either live with a vague notion of faith, which acknowledges God but denies the need of religion, or dismiss faith as superstition. In the first reading James emphasizes the importance of faith in primitive Christianity.

Like most New Testament letters the Letter of James is addressed to a community struggling to live the faith it professes. Persecution threatens the people from outside and inner dissension compromises their unity. The people need wisdom to see the goal they long for beyond the difficulties they experience. The writer asserts that God will grant such exalted knowledge to anyone who asks with true faith. This means that they should not put conditions on their trust in God but to count on receiving His blessing in due time.

Faith is a hard sell in our cynical age. On top of everything else Church leaders sometimes fail to act with justice and prudence. Yet the saints give marvelous testimony to faith’s efficacy. Furthermore, we believe because of faith’s inner logic. That is, we can see a linkage between the traditions of Judeo-Christianity and the conclusions of the great philosophers beginning in antiquity with the likes of Plato and running through Descartes, Hegel and Heidegger.