Daily Devotion 29 April 2021
James 2:14-17 ‘Faith and Works’
14 My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don’t do anything to show that you really do have faith? Can that kind of faith save you? 15 If you know someone who doesn’t have any clothes or food, 16 you shouldn’t just say, “I hope all goes well for you. I hope you will be warm and have plenty to eat.” What good is it to say this, unless you do something to help? 17 Faith that doesn’t lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead!
The Methodist Prayer Handbook for 2020/21 begins each day with a quotation from a Christian figure from the past – some well-known, some less so. To me, such a figure was Teresa of Ávila
(1515–1582) whose words are set out as our prayer for today, shown below.
So who was she? Well, quite a character it seems! She is described as a spiritual late bloomer – and in her words was a “gad about” nun for 20 years, not getting serious about her spirituality until she was forty. One day when praying she really encountered Christ and experienced his presence, leaving her with a deep love of God. But she stayed in touch with life around her, for as she said, prayer that displaces charity does not please God. She would certainly have agreed with James that faith without works is dead.
The following quotation from her sums up her attitude to Christian living:
“What the Lord desires is works.
If you see a sick woman to whom you can give some help
never be affected by the fear that your devotions will suffer,
but take pity on her;
if she is in pain, you should feel pain too;
if necessary fast so that she may have your food,
not so much for her sake as because you know it to be your Lord’s will.
That is true union with his will.”
Teresa, James and Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours, challenge us to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves and to keep this balance in our lives. The following prayer reflects this other side of Teresa of Avila’s life.
Let nothing disturb or dismay us, O God,
for all things are passing and you alone are unchanging.
All things are wrought in patience, O God,
and those who possess you lack nothing.
Our sufficiency, O God,
is in you alone, now and always. Amen.
Reflection © 2021 Gillian Wood.
Image freely available online.
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