From today’s reading (James 5:1-6):
'An answer for the rich. Start crying, weep for the miseries that are coming to you. Your wealth is all rotting, your clothes are all eaten up by moths. All your gold and your silver are corroding away, and the same corrosion will be your own sentence, and eat into your body. It was a burning fire that you stored up as your treasure for the last days. Labourers mowed your fields, and you cheated them – listen to the wages that you kept back, calling out; realise that the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. On earth you have had a life of comfort and luxury; in the time of slaughter you went on eating to your heart’s content. It was you who condemned the innocent and killed them; they offered you no resistance.'
St James has some harsh words for us today, spelling out a serious warning to those with great wealth; those who fail to adequately reward the efforts of others; and those who have no care for the most innocent and vulnerable in our society.
Being comfortable in life is no crime against God. We are entitled to our comforts and to those elements of life that give us joy, even when they are material elements. But the challenge for us is not to allow those things to take over from God. And neither can we allow them to get in the way of our obligation to love our neighbour. It is also important that we don’t get carried away with our wealth, storing up vast quantities for ourselves when we could be sharing it with others. As St James tells us, this wealth will rot away and the gold and silver will corrode. Essentially, it will not last. Unlike the Love of God which lasts for all eternity.
We must also be aware of our duty to other people; to treat them with respect and love. We must treat other people as we would wish to be treated and we must never stray from this commandment. If we do not treat people in this way our failings will reach “the ears of the Lord of hosts” and we shall be judged on those failings.
Similarly, we must protect the most innocent and vulnerable in our society. As you read this, countless babies, unable to offer any resistance, are being condemned to death and killed in the womb. These children need our protection so that they can be afforded the same opportunity to live that each and every one of us was blessed to receive. Why should I live and that little child die? Why should my life be more valuable than theirs? What have they done to deserve such a brutal sentence?
St James is giving us a real ‘heads up’ in this passage. We have a duty to ensure God remains number one in our lives, even before our husband or wife or children. We need to love Him and love our neighbour. And we must heed the call to look after the most vulnerable in our society, the unborn; the little children of God who can offer no resistance.