September 9, 2018

Some lament the loss of people dressing up for church on Sunday; others think it's a healthy sign that we're as casual in attire gathered before the Lord as we are elsewhere. No matter which school of thought on this topic we belong to, James would probably chastise us. In either case, we are still focused on external appearance, mistaking it for some sort of favored position before God. True, James criticizes the community that favors the rich and well-dressed while ostracizing the poorly clothed, but even more he criticizes the making of distinctions, making choices based on criteria that having nothing to do with the reign of God. James might turn our attention to the reign of God described by Isaiah, in which people are healed and the earth becomes ripe to bear fruit. Jesus today is focused on this reign of God, healing a Gentile man in a region hostile to his Jewish faith, not mindful of the man's origins or clothing or status or ability to repay. Isaiah, James, and Jesus in Mark's Gospel all call us to look more deeply to find where the will of God needs to be done, and has been done, on earth as in heaven.

 

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