Rogation Sunday 2017
May 21, 2017
Old Testament Lesson: Ezekiel 34: 23-31
Epistle: James 1: 22-27
Gospel: John 16: 23-33
“Delusion, Deliverance, and Deeds”
In the movie “Batman Begins”, the main character, Bruce Wayne, meets an old friend while he’s acting rather frivolous and privileged. His friend, Rachel Dawes, in responding to his statement that he wasn’t “really like this”, says, “It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you.” This attitude reflects the statement by James in our Epistle today: “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
Often, we try to justify our behavior based on our self-conception, and we ignore the reality that what we think doesn’t express the love of God – it’s what we do, how we live, that shines Christ’s light to the world.
A little later in his epistle, James, tells us, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.” We must be aware that what we do and say has an immediate impact on those around us. The way we behave can either draw people to Christ, or can repel them. Do we speak in kindness and charity to our friends, family, and neighbors? Do we carefully weigh our treatment of others? God calls us to value them as we value ourselves – to love them. By harsh and wicked words, we drive people away from the Church. We must do better and proclaim the Gospel at all times through the way we honor each other in private and before the world.
If we convince ourselves that it’s all “okay” because we “believe” in Jesus, but we do not act humbly before His Creation, we deceive ourselves and fall in the trap James warns us about. We must continually seek the face of God and walk in humility with our brothers in Christ – even when we disagree or are hurt. Christ endured unimaginable grief and pain so that we might learn to love. He asks us to repay that love through our participation in living His Gospel, not just believing or saying it. “It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you.”
The world judges the Church by our actions. Will we live up to the calling and let our deeds reflect the deliverance we’ve received? Or will we remain in our delusions and satisfy ourselves while ignoring the hard call of humility and love?