James knows all of us will be tested. That there will be trials. We are to persevere, fight the good fight, struggle as best we can under these situations. No one goes through life without being tested or tried. Wait, not even Jesus? This is one of those gospel passages that we need a paragraph before today’s reading and even a paragraph after today’s reading to understand what is happening.
Notice we are at the beginning of the book of James, there is no additional text. Well, yes, there is depending on the Bible you have. If you have a student’s Bible, there is always an introduction to help you understand the context of the letter. In this case we are told that this author is writing to the Christians who are and have been persecuted for their faith and many have left Israel.
The second piece of information is to realize this letter was not written to a specific community. It is known to be catholic because it is for all peoples. Now look again at the reading. It suggests that when we are tested and tried, we should look upon this time with joy. Perhaps because we recognize the strength and maturity of our faith. There is no point in testing someone with little or no faith. So, when they insult you and persecute you because of Jesus, rejoice and be glad for great is your reward.
Speaking of little faith, in the gospel, the Pharisees want another sign. Even though Jesus has healed many people, cured their illnesses, fed thousands with a few fish and loaves, they still want another sign. Amazing. Jesus sighs, how long and how many signs do you need? I see this as Jesus being tested. The Pharisees are always testing Jesus. How does He handle this? He recognizes how stubborn and obstinate they are. Instead of trying to dialogue or argue with them he simply leaves them. There will be another time on another day to try to share the faith.
I think this is good advice for all of us. We will not always have the right words or the right approach. So, we need to recognize there are times to leave it along. Place it in God’s hands and let Him take care of it.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen