Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(James 1:1-11; Mark 8:11-13)
Puerto Rico had a solemn Christmas. The territory was devastated by two hurricanes last year. Its economy was struggling to keep people from moving away. The storms forced many more to take up their belongings and move away. Puerto Ricans will hear James’ words in today’s first reading as applying especially to them: “…when you encounter various trials…know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
The Letter of James is sometimes criticized for hardly mentioning the Lord Jesus. There are two references to him, but more significantly the letter relates the same teaching as the gospel. Today’s passage, for example, contrasts the rich faith of the poor person to the often poor faith of the rich. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus calls the poor “blessed” because they more likely trust in God for their livelihood.
Natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes challenge us deeply. Nevertheless, they are often instructive. They teach us that relationships are more valuable to have than lots of things. More specifically, they show that our relationship with God matters most.