15TH FEBRUARY 2022
Readings: James 1:12-18/Psalm 94:12-13a,14-15, 18-19/Mark 8:14-21
THEME: PERSEVERANCE IN TEMPTATION
INTRO: In the Letter of James, the author speaks about the origins of temptations and the benefits of resisting temptations. The psalmist professes confidence that the LORD God will strengthen him while he himself and the Chosen Ones go through rough times. In the Gospel, Jesus warns His disciples about the bad leaven (evil growth factor) of the Pharisees and the Herodians.
EXPLANATIONS: The pericope from the Letter of James read today echoes speaks the various temptations (peirasmon = “test, trial or temptation” as used in the prayer of Our Father). He first remarks that those who persevere through the temptation or test are truly blessed. James says, "blessed is he who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life". Emphasis is also placed on the fact that God is not the source of temptation or testing, since God is the source of only good. The author writes 'no one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil'. Rather, temptations come from an individual’s own desires and enticements which are contrary to God’s will. The author then blows out the truth that only good flows from God and the good we experience now is only a small foretaste of the good that awaits us in the heavenly Reign of God.
Tony A, [2/15/2022 6:24 AM]
Living in an environment of pain and evil tendencies, David in Psalm 94 laments he as an individual and perhaps a community is going through rough times and being besieged by opponents - enemies of progress. In the earlier part of the psalm, the author describes the trials that are being perpetuated on God’s people. With confidence in God, the psalmist professes his faith that God sees what is happening and will strengthen and bring relief to those who trust in the LORD God.
APPLICATION IN OUR DAILY LIFE: Reflecting deeply on today's Scripture Texts, one comes to think about two different cycles of nature: the vicious cycle and the virtuous cycle. The leaven of the Pharisees and that of King Herod (today's Gospel) is that evil which causes more evil to grow within others. The evil within the Pharisees and Herod is truly a vicious cycle – causing more and more vices to grow and increase in the heart of the individual. Moreso, the vicious cycle begins when an individual or a group of individuals focus on himself/herself/themselves rather than looking up to God and on what will benefit others in the community. It starts out as a single selfish act. That leads to more insidious and evil deeds. That is the leaven about which Jesus warns His disciples to avoid. That process of escalating evil or de-escalating goodness keeps getting worse and worse, drawing more individuals into the abysmal trap (test, temptation, trial). In truth, it is easy to get stucked into doing what is wrong. It may seem so minor or trivial at a time. Yet that is how vicious cycles gets started. As believer, you need to take conscious effort to fight against temptation. In fact, it is something one cannot overcome personally, without God’s help. It is like the water in the gutters which usually starts off slowly, but increases in intensity the more it gets going with heavy rains. Yes, it is possible to resist the spinning downward, but is quite difficult, once it has started - the grace of God is needed here.
As Christians, let us try our best to ask for the virtuous cycle of nature from God. Let us begin with a realization of God’s constant presence in our lives. Never forget this, God puts the desire to do good within us - in our hearts. If only we can cooperate with God’s graces and join the process of lifting up the good in us, we will sing joyful chorus in the land of the living (after death) as St James tells us in the First Reading. The choice is ours. It will take hard work, efforts, prayer and fasting to fight temptations and to look up to the Lord Jesus. It may seem impossible and not worth it, but we must see beyond the immediate trials and listen to the paraphrased words of today’s First Reading: “Blessed are they who persevere in temptation, for when they have been proven, they will receive the crown of eternal life that the Lord Jesus promised to those who love God.” May the Triune God never abandon you in times of trials, May he never forsake you in times of need, May he turn your curses into blessings as you profess your faith and trust in him today and always, Amen!