Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(James 4:1-10; Mark 9:30-37)
Once in a while at the end of mass someone speaks out, “St. Michael, defend in battle…” The prayer dates back 142 years to the pontificate of Leo XIII. At that time the papacy found itself at a loss vis-a-vis worldly powers. St. Michael was called upon to defend the Holy See’s interests. The tune of the prayer is similar to today’s first reading.
The author of the text understands his readers to be in conflict with themselves. He sees their grace-enlightened minds struggling against their passions inclined to do evil. Distrusting spontaneity, he exhorts them to soberly resist all temptations of pleasure.
Such outlooks on the world appeal to us who sometimes feel conflicted by natural desires. However, the goods of the world should not be spurned completely. Made for our use and enjoyment, they make us grateful to be alive. But they are not to dominate our aspirations either. We are made for something better - love that blossoms into eternal life. We should interpret James as a warning about over-indulgence in material creation. Even more we should be joyful and thankful for the gift of life.