Chapter 5

Warning to the rich

Q. Why should the rich “weep & howl”?

A. They have accumulated in life stuff they cannot take with them. They have achieved their wealth off the backs of the poor. God will judge… Lk 12:15-21, Lk 21:34, Job 13:28, Is 51:8, Mk 6:19-21

Q. What does fire symbolise in this context?

A. God’s righteous judgement

Q. What does “You have killed the righteous man” mean?

A. See Sirach 34:22.

Q. Who does this “righteous man” remind you of?

A. Jesus

Q. Given this, what is the significance of Mt 25:34-46?

A. Loving Jesus’ body

Q. What kinds of sin have we seen in 4:13and 5:16?

Omission and commission

Patience

Q. Why does James say “therefore”?

He’s beginning to sum up. Whenever you see “therefore” you should ask what it’s there for ;-). The summary of what James has said so far concerns: trials, wisdom, internal conflict, controlling the tongue, faith/works… He says be patient in all of it.

Q. What are James’ readers waiting for?

A. Jesus’ Second Coming (or possibly the judgement of Jerusalem). Rev 7:14-17

Q. What’s the problem with grumbling?

It’s like slander, a form of judging. See OT when Moses was in the desert with Isreal.

Q. What does James emphasize to help prevent this grumbling?

The Lord dis “standing at the door” – he has not forgotten us. See Isaiah 40:27-31

Q. What do you think James means when he says “Establish your hearts”

A. “establish” comes from “stabilis” in Latin, from which we get stable. Catechism #1808. The active tense is used which requires effort. Stability in the midst of struggle.

Q. What is the significance of “early” and “late” rains?

A. Natural cycle. Plant and wait. Impatient farmers would try to harvest in March. “He who has hope” – B XVI.  Galations 6:9

Q. What might be a modern day Catholic’s way of rendering verse 10?

A. Consider the perseverence of the Saints. See Cloud of Witnesses. See Isaiah 50:7.

Q. In what way was Job “steadfast”?

A. Job 42:10-17. He lost his wealth, home and family but he didn’t curse God (Remember we talked about the poor?)

Q. Why does James say no to oath swearing?

A. See Mt 5:33-37 and Catechism #2155. Oath swearing brings condemnation when used for secular purposes rather than sacred ones. This isn’t lessened by using “heaven” or “earth” instead of God’s name. Treated lightly. Oaths: Mt 14:7; 26:2,74; 27:25

Q. When should oaths be sworn?

It is legitimate for doctors, politicians,  judges and soldiers to make oaths, as well as those making and renewing covenants.

Q. Why are oaths sworn?

God’s name is invoked to bring God’s help (blessing) and punishment (curse) to those who violate it.

Q. What does James demand instead?

A. Truthfulness and integrity at all times, as well as controlling of the tongue.

Prayer

Q. When does James say you should pray?

A. When things are bad, but also when things are good. Suffering -> Pray. Cheerful -> Sing Praise. Sick -> Call oil and the prayer of elders. See Phil 4:6-7

Q. Specifically, what should happen if someone is sick?

A. The prayer of elders and oil. Sacramental roots of the Anointing of the Sick. See #1520-1523: * Cleanse from sin * strengthen in struggles (* prepare for death). See Mark 6:13

Q. Why oil?

A. Oil was used as medicine in antiquity (Is 1:6; Lk 10:34) – an appropriate sign.

Q. What makes this more than just a simple medical procedure?

A. The invocation of the Lord’s name. The forgiveness of sins, “saving” him.

Q. Why is forgiveness of sins mentioned when sickness appears to be the issue?

A. Illness is a sign of the consequences of sin in a fallen world. There is therefore a link. The eternal consequences, however, are far more important.

Q. In verse 16, James says “therefore” again. Why?

A. We should pray for one another that we might be healed. Lev 5:5-6; Num 5:5-10; Jn 20:23

Q. Why is “the prayer of a righteous man” so powerful?

A. See earlier discussion about prayer. It’s from obedience, in accordance with God’s will and with great faith.

Q. What does James emphasize about Elijah?

A. “He “was a man of like nature with ourselves”. See 1 Kings 17:1, 18; 14:1-46 See Catechism #1422, Jas 1:6-8; 4:3; Sir 48:1-3; 35:17; Rev 11:6; Luke 4:25

Q. How does 19-20 connect into the overall theme of James’ letter?

A. If we truly love God and our neighbour as ourselves it will drive us to express our faith in the work of reconciling the world to God. Work of mercy. See Gal 6:1, Hos 6:1, Joel 2:12, Lk 1:16, Acts 3: 19, Prov 10:12, 1 Peter 4:8, Neh 4:5, Ps 32:1

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