23rd Sunday Ordinary Time - Year B
Faith VS. Works
Most religions begin with simple teachings from someone with a strong personality. Over long periods of time, many religions become more legalistic. People want specific answers to particular questions and legalisms evolve. There is a dangerous side-effect to this: religions can become more mechanical. It becomes a matter of saying the right words, or doing the correct actions. This had happened to biblical faith by the time of Saint Paul.
To correct this, he taught that faith, not action, was the root of religion. Unfortunately, some of his disciples carried this to an extreme, contending that it was not necessary to do ANY religious acts.
James tries to counteract this excessive view by restating the need for good works. He is not contradicting Paul, but rather the extremists among Paul's followers.
SPITTING, TOUCHED HIS TONGUE
To give his apostles a break from their missionary work, Jesus has taken them to Lebanon. Now he returns, stopping at a Roman city called Scitapolis. Some people bring him a deaf-mute and ask for a healing. Jesus does a strange thing. He sticks his fingers in the man?s ears and rubs saliva on his tongue. We might wonder why he did these unusual acts. Basically, he is using sign language, probably the only words that the man can understand. Instead of a casual "be cured", Jesus gives the man the dignity and personal care that he deserves: away from the crowd.
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