This section of the letter of James reminds me of the wisdom literature of the Hebrew Scriptures. Moderation and self restraint should be the hallmarks of the true disciple. Be "quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." Be eager to listen to the word and welcome it into your heart for it is able to save your soul. Here we have the encouragement to do daily "lectio divina". But being very practical James reminds the disciple the he must be "a doer of the word and not a hearer only". Then James gets specific as to what he thinks is absolutely necessary for a true disciple: he requires him to "bridle his tongue" and care for "orphans and widows in their affliction". I think that is a big order.
Mark presents us with a healing miracle. Friends bring a blind man to Jesus and beg for a cure. Jesus doesn’t act immediately but takes the blind man’s hand and leads him away from the crowded village. He anoints the blind man’s eye with saliva and asks the question: "Do you see anything?" The man says he cannot see distinctly and so Jesus lays his hands on "the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly". It is interesting that the other gospel writers do not recount this incident. Maybe they were embarrassed that Jesus didn’t accomplish the miracle on the first try. But just maybe we are dealing here with the growing faith of the blind man. Maybe that should be our prayer today: "Lord, may I see more clearly what you are inviting me to do when you touch me with your Spirit."
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.