The first time I began attending daily mass was in high school. I would wake up in the morning and go to 6 am mass and have a donut or beignet with other youth group members after. My youth minister had a habit of compelling his youth into doing just a little bit more. He approached me and asked, “Tim, I’m sure you met our newest youth group members from Africa, one of them told me he would like to come to daily mass but can’t drive and his parents can’t bring him. I have someone to bring him to school, could you pick him up in the morning.” I could have said no, but he probably would have guilted me into saying yes. One morning I picked him up, and we were running last second. I stop at a light and see a man walking on the side of the street, not unusual, but what happens next is. He walks up talks to my friend in the car in I believe Swahili. Next thing I know he gets into the back of my car. I freak out, what is going on? Can I trust this guy? As I’m on pins and needles, my friend tells me he needs to get to a gas station down the road and take a bus to a job. A part of me at the time wanted to tell him “get out of my car we can’t help you, we have to be at 6 am mass, and we are running late as is.” However, I didn’t have the heart to do it, and I also think the spirit was moving me to help out this man. We drop him off in time and head to Mass. We show up late and have a story to tell at our regular Coffee Call run after Mass. At the time I wasn’t happy this happened, and I keep my door locked with my friend in the car so that it couldn’t happen again. However, at that moment I was living out my faith by helping out someone who was in need.
This week we begin hearing from the Letter of St. James. His letter may be unfamiliar to us however it contains many vital teachings on our faith. This week St. James tells us “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourself.” The first step in our lives of faith is to be open to what God wants to give us. We come to Mass on a regular basis to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. We pray with scripture to deepen our knowledge and faith in Jesus. We may even read a book on the scripture or watch a religious movie or lecture. We receive many things from God in our lives of faith. St. James challenges us to take what God has given us and share it with others.
Think for example when you go eat at a good restaurant, and you enjoy the food. When you see your friends you say, go to the grapevine it’s delicious food and a fun atmosphere. When we enjoy something we naturally want to share it with others, encourage others to appreciate it as well.
At Mass, we receive a perfect gift from above. As St. James tells us we are a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. For God, we are the most prized part of his creation. God never hesitates to give us an abundance of fruit to help us grow and become more like him. Again St. James challenges us that we don’t receive these gifts to keep it to ourselves to build up our treasures. God wants us to take what we have received and share it with others, bring others to this great wellspring of grace. God wants us to be active in our faith to spread the good news to those around us.
St. James also explains to us what pure and undefiled religion is. If we think of an example of great faith, we may think of someone who goes to Mass daily, who prays the scriptures and are deeply spiritual. These are signs of holiness but St. James tells us a faithful Christian does works of charity and love as well as good spiritual life.
When I helped that man get to his job, I thought he got in the way of living out my Catholic Faith. Now as I look back, I say to myself, “that man helped me live out my Catholic faith.” As we have heard these last few weeks, the Eucharist, the mass, the scriptures are the lifeblood of our faith. These supernatural gifts from above give us the energy we need to live out our Christian lives. However, we are called to share these gifts with others. Living out your faith for others doesn’t have to look like what it did for me. God may invite you to help the homeless, to do mission work in a foreign country. However, we too can be doers of the word by providing for our families and raising them to love Jesus. We can be doers of the word by being examples of Christian living in our Jobs, whether that be as a teacher, a plant worker, a nurse or doctor, or whatever we do to provide for our families. God calls each of us to a unique way to be doers of our faith. As we come to receive the Eucharist and listen to God’s word may we be moved to act out our faith more profoundly. Our faith gives us the strength to live out what God calls us to, no matter for the unexpected like it was for me, or in the planned and prepared ways we live out our faith. May we seek to live out our faith not just in what we hear but also live it out in what we do!