More Reflections on the Letter of St. James

The Orthodox believe that James, the brother of Jesus, was a stepbrother, one of Joseph’s sons by his late wife. This makes sense, since if James were the child of Mary, he would be younger than Jesus, not yet at an age of respect that would place him as Bishop of Jerusalem soon after the Resurrection. He seems to be an elder already in the Jewish community, and is the logical person to resolve a dispute between the factions of Peter and Paul. He was a person of wisdom in the Law, and a man of discernment in the Spirit.

I did not care much for this epistle when I was young. I suppose that I still wanted something of the world, that I still wanted to have “fun” in a worldly sense. I was a beautiful, fashionable young woman, and the praise of the world is so hard to give up! After all, we are taught this by the world from infancy:  To be beautiful is to be loved.

When we finally mature enough in our faith that we can leave the world behind, with all its temptations, lies and desperation, we then find ourselves hurt and rejected even by those who say they love us. But we cannot stand with a foot in each canoe! The Lord, or the world…

A man cannot serve two masters, for he will love one and despise the other. The masters will give conflicting orders, and one will be more accommodating than the other, and the servant will be torn between the two. It is immoral to take wages from two masters with opposing interests; the servant will betray one eventually.

If Christ is Lord, we cannot camp with Satan in the world. We cannot eat from the kettle of the enemy. The Lord will know us as traitors to His will. And we cannot make an excuse to Him about it. Only true repentance and return to His ways will suffice.

In Jesus Christ, our Lord, God and Saviour, we are given the bread of heaven, the cup of salvation. Nothing else is needful for eternal life but Him. The bread of the world is ashes in our mouths, the dry dust of the lies of the enemy.

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