Read Leviticus 13:1-2,44-46, Ps. 32:1-2,5,11, 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1, Mark 1:40-45

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

The words of James today are quite piercing and loaded with truth. James is writing to people who are not at peace (persecuted) and are beginning to doubt whether God still cares for them. Given the situation in the country today, we can easily relate to James’ audience. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus is disappointed with those who requested a sign from heaven. What lessons can we grasp from our readings today?

1. Trials are Part of Life: As far as serving God in this world is concerned, we are always going to face different forms of trials, such as unanswered prayers (silence from God), discouragement from fellow Christians, failure in business (or school), family crisis, mockery from enemies etc. St. John of the Cross refers to such moments as “Dark Nights of the Soul.”

2. Trials are designed to Strengthen Us. In the words of St. Augustine: “God will never let his children suffer except if such suffering is ultimately for their good.” Every time you face trials, know you are on the verge of a breakthrough. Something great is coming your way; you only need to pass this test. Trials are like promotion examinations we write before moving higher. St. James says: “Count it all joy when you meet various trials.”

In a study conducted by psychologists, it was observed that persons who believed that stress was good for them were less likely to suffer from ailments such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, heart disease, etc. Meanwhile, those who believe stress is killing them go on to die from stress-related complications. Life is great when we can laugh regardless of our challenges. Do your best, but remember you cannot solve all your problems. Some are blessings in disguise.

3. Are You Facing Trials? Ask For Wisdom: Rather than pray for an end to our trials, St. James wants us to ask for wisdom instead. We learn more about life during tough times than easy times. Trials help us to know who our friends are. We also discover our hidden gifts and abilities; trials motivate us. Trials also teach us humility. For instance, if you boast a lot, God could send you trials to show you the emptiness of your wealth. Trials are God’s way of sending us to school because He wants us to be at our best.

4. Never Doubt God: Doubt is talking from both sides of the mouth – simultaneously saying there is no God and asking Him to bless you. St. James describes a person who doubts as the sea wave is tossed from side to side by the winds. To doubt God is to be double-minded, and your prayers are futile with such an unstable attitude. No wonder the book of Hebrews teaches us that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Cf. Heb. 11:6).

5. Never Put God to the Test: The Pharisees had witnessed several miracles from Jesus, yet they asked Jesus for a sign because, as St. James noted, they were double-minded. Jesus told them: “No sign shall be given to this generation”, and he walked away. How come we never ask God to prove His existence when good things come our way? Why is it that it is only when we are in pain that we feel there is no God?

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, when I have to pass through ‘fire’, carry me gently in your arms and save me from despair. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Monday of week 6 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: James 1:1-11, Ps. 119:67-68,71-72,75-76, Mark 8:11-13).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu