Snacking on the Word: James 5:16b

Image result for bible scrollMy parish celebrated Anointing of the Sick at Mass this past weekend. We took advantage of the permission to switch out the Ordinary Sunday’s assigned New Testament reading to the classic one from the letter of James. We’ve touched on that Scripture here before, in the Reconciliation Lectionary and as a reading for the Pastoral Care of the Sick.

I found myself drawn to the last sentence in the passage:

The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.

My pastor spoke of this as well.

Today’s snack suggests that while the sick person may be focused, if not preoccupied with personal recovery, they still have a service to perform, a ministry if you will. It is true that many sufferers are in need of powerful prayer to transcend cancer and other life-threatening conditions. We see in many lives an extraordinary witness in the dedication to recovery. That adverb, very, is significant. Saint James suggests that our agency in prayer can invoke God’s power in the world. We can count on that.

“Righteous” is how the person praying may be described. This is less a quality we shoulder ourselves, but one that comes from a long friendship with God. Do we have the qualities of tenacity, persistence, trust, and such in our dealings with God? What is our interior orientation? Not just our righteous acts, but the interior life it represents.

“Fervent” is a good adjective. Without the qualifiers, we have an ordinary sentence: The prayer of a person is powerful. Is that convincing? God adds a lot more to the mix. Jesus advocated fervor, if not persistence in our prayer. (Cf. Luke 11:1-13) Righteousness is aligning our whole life–thoughts and actions–with the will of God, as best as we can muster. The end result? God’s power shows forth in the world, especially on behalf of others who will experience God’s intervention as a result of intercessory prayer.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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