Walking in Peace with St. James: Chapter 3

St. James

Opening Prayer…

St. James!
We come to you in eager pilgrimage.

We come as part of a great throng of pilgrims
who through the centuries have come to this place,
where you are pilgrim and host, apostle and patron.
We come to you today because we are on a common journey.
Place yourself, patron of pilgrims, at the head of our pilgrimage.
Teach us, apostle and friend of the Lord, the WAY which leads to him.
Open us, preacher of the Gospel, to the TRUTH you learned from your Master’s lips.
Give us, witness of the faith,
the strength always to love the LIFE Christ gives.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Chapter 3

Power of the Tongue

Gossip.  We often do it because we want to belong.  This longing to be on the inside is such a pull.  It is a desire that nags at us, like food stuck in our teeth. “Desire makes us act and when we act what we do will either lead to a greater integration or disintegration within our personalities, minds , and bodies – and to the strengthening or deterioration of our relationship to God, others and the cosmic world,” (Rolheiser,The Holy Longing, p. 7).  The desire to be on the inside, through our words, shapes who we are.  This affects the world around us, and our relationship with God.

How can we tell if we are gossiping or not?  There are questions we could ask ourselves:

  1. How reasonable is it for me to believe in the truth of what I say?
  2. How damaging is what I say to the reputation of the person I am talking about? (Westacott, The Virtues of Our Vices, p. 57)
  3. What is the motivation behind it? (Epstein, Gossip:  The Untrivial Pursuit, p. 25)

If what we are talking about is truthful, life-giving and with good intention, then the gossip may be considered good.  Another rule of thumb is whether you would say it to the person’s face if present.  Odds are that the talk is safe.  “Who among you loves life, take delight in prosperous days?  Keep your tongue from evil, your lips from speaking lies.  Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it,” (Psalm 34:  13-15).

True Wisdom

James talks about acting one way but feeling the opposite.  Can you identify?  Being double-minded is not having a singleness of purpose.  It is as if we are at war with ourselves.  We cannot serve two masters.  Jesus tells us, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other,” (Matthew 6:24).  Soren Kierkegaard reflected on this idea.  He said, “If it is possible that a man can will only one thing then he must will the good,” (A Kierkegaard Anthology, p. 271).  This is a singularity of thought.  This is living authentically.  It is not living with two masters.  It is behaving as true to ourselves as we are able.  Yet even when we fail, we can turn back again.  Kierkegaard continues in hope, “For as the Good is only a single thing, so all ways lead to the Good, even the false ones – when the repentant one follows the same way back…let your heart in truth will only one thing, for therein is the heart’s purity,” (p. 272).   Even when we choose wrong, we can follow our way back to the good.

Then he ends:  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.  What does this mean to you?

How are these themes reflected in the documentary, Walking the Camino?

How might these teachings help you find peace?

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