Daily Reflection
February 16th, 2000
Fr. Richard Gabuzda
Institute for Priestly Formation
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

James 1:19-27
Psalms 15:2-5
Mark 8:22-26

Go Deep!

The Letter of James is renowned for its call to make the Christian life a life of depth and not of superficiality.  He finds many ways to point to a life which is not merely a collection of good thoughts and kind wishes, but a life rich in actions.  From this letter we receive the often-quoted reminder that “Faith without works is dead.” 

What strikes us about today’s passage is the variety of ways in which James envisions faith being expressed in actions, in which the Christian life is to be one of depth. The passage’s reminder that true faith consists in “looking after orphans and widows” sounds just like the James we know.  But slipped in just as easily are James’ injunctions to “control the tongue” and to “keep oneself unspotted by the world.” 

Most surprising is the lead off line which James sends our way, commanding us to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”  If ever there was a call to depth and not superficiality, this is it.  But could we think of three things that our contemporary society finds more difficult? 

“Quick to hear.”  Sounds roar around us without interruption.  Sounds “out front” are not enough; we need “background sound.”  To really hear what someone else is saying, demands that we stop and receive from another, that we allow the other’s words to “go deep.”  Are we anxious to “receive from another?”

“Slow to speak.”  From “chat rooms” to “talk shows” we’re not very slow to speak.  Talking “off the top of our heads” without much depth comes easily to us.  Yet we delight when we hear someone who speaks “from the heart.”  Do we speak “from the heart?”

“Slow to anger.”  I doubt that James would mind good anger at injustices and other things that “should not be.”  What he would find hard to handle would be our society’s tendency to blame others first before looking at our own responsibility, the tendency to “react” rather than to “respond.”  When difficult words come our way, do we “react” or do we “respond?” 

Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.  James encourages us to let these actions flow from our faith.  What a life of depth that demands!

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.
Online Ministries
Home Page
for Sunday
Online Retreat
Daily Readings Texts
from the
New American Bible
Daily Readings Texts
from the
RSV Bible
Spirituality Links
Saint of the Day
Collaborative Ministry Office 
Home Page
University Ministry
Home Page
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook