Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of the 6th Week of Easter: Year 1
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world,” (James 1:27).
It seems that in any pure and undefiled religion there is the humanitarian requirement to care for others, especially those who are stressed such as orphans and widows. Jews, Christians, and Muslims, all have the requirement to care for the needy. And, all can be pure religions.
We who call ourselves Christians have our Lord Jesus as the divine example of pure religion. Jesus was very attentive to the needs of the sick, the demon possessed, the blind, and all who were stressed in His world and ours. And, our Lord Jesus responds to the needs of the people in ways that improve their lives. And he still does today.
Now, let us not ignore the words, “to keep oneself unstained by the world.” I don’t think this applies to the planet when James says “the world.” I think he means the people of the world. I have been round the planet six times while serving in the Marines. I have met good and bad people from all walks of life. With many people that I have met, I could not speak their language and was unfamiliar with their traditions and customs. But through it all, there were good people trying to be as hospitable as they could; and, there were those, for whatever reason, only wanted to take advantage of me and others, and to be self-serving, hostile and unfriendly. I don’t know why.
I think if we attach our words from James for today with the words from the prophet Micah where he says, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). This coupled with the words from James, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world,” (James 1:27). These words will guide any of us, of any religious stripe, to be the best persons we can be no matter where on the planet we live, or language we speak, or faith we profess. These words help us to stay unstained by the unfriendly and inhospitable people of the world. God made us all with the unlimited capacity to love one another. We just have to choose to do so.
Let us live to love, more than just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John