Read James 5:13-20, Ps. 141:1-3,8, Mark 10:13-16

“The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.” (James 5:16)

In today’s Gospel passage, people were bringing children to Jesus and the disciples tried to stop them. But when Jesus saw it, he rebuked the disciples for their ignorance. Children are often considered a nuisance when they are around but even though they are so easily distracted, there is something they possess that is precious and powerful; it is their inner purity or innocence so to say.

Jesus warned us that those who destroy the innocence of children are better off drowned in the sea with a millstone around their necks. (Cf. Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42 & Luke 18:21)

When a person with a clean heart prays, his prayer is very loud. Yes, God listens even to the prayers of the worst sinners on earth because he is a Father of all. But as James puts it, “the prayer of the righteous man has great power in its effects.”

God listens to all but that of a righteous man, that of an innocent child, that of a pure heart is different! In fact, as Jesus said: “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” This means we all are encouraged to have child-like (innocent, uncontaminated, humble, simple, joyful) hearts. James gives us the example of Elijah saying he was a man like us yet his prayer affected the entire cosmos. We have no excuse for remaining in our sinfulness.

Is it the case that God only answers the righteous? No. But note that in Ephesians 6, Paul mentions righteousness as one of the weapons of our warfare. Make efforts to be righteous, make efforts to be childlike in your approach to the things of God. Do not despise God or act as though you don’t need him.

St. James talks about two sacraments of the church; the anointing of the sick and confession. These are two sacraments of healing and it takes faith on our part to enjoy their benefits. Believe that when a priest anoints you with oil, his prayer will heal you. Believe that when you tell a priest your sins, you are telling them to Jesus Christ himself and God who alone has the power to forgive, will forgive you and heal you of the wounds your sins have inflicted on your original innocence. 

You can always tell God your sins directly but it is not the same as telling them to a priest. When you do it with faith, God gives you the grace of the sacrament. In the same way, you can always ask God to bless you but when you kneel before your father for a blessing, you agree with me that it is a different thing altogether. Do not despise confession. 

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, make me a child again and determined to grow in righteousness. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. (Saturday of week 7 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: James 5:13-20, Ps. 141:1-3,8, Mark 10:13-16).