“So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.”

The headline comes from the last line of today’s first reading (Jas 4:13-17).  James leads up to this by decrying the boasting of those who make plans as though they were in charge of their lives instead of God.  He suggests that all planning should acknowledge that what they propose will happen only if God wills it.

Regarding the first part of the reading, not only should a suffix of “God willing” to our statements of intent acknowledge God’s sovereignty over our lives, but it would serve well to give us pause as well: are we following God’s will in what we intend to do?  This may be for us an effective means to achieve the aim of the final sentence of this reading.  Try these: “Tomorrow I’m going to do my taxes and deceive the IRS where I think I can get away with it, God willing.”  “This evening I’ll be heading to the mall to spend lavishly on a new wardrobe I don’t really need, if it is the Lord’s will.”  Now, you fill in the blank.  Is this not an effective way to help ensure our wills align with God’s?  A sort of ongoing examination of conscience.

Getting to the last line, I’m sure that many homilies and reflections for today will focus on sins of omission.  This is worthwhile to consider.  But let us not forget that we can and should consider sins of commission here as well.  That is, simply taking the wrong course of action.  So, for example, engaging (or remaining in) a conversation in which a person is being torn down by detraction, calumny, or rash judgment.  The right thing to do is leave, steer the conversation in another direction, or defend the person being abused.  Or maybe the situation is going to or remaining at an event that offends against the core beliefs of your faith as opposed to not going or leaving when things go south.  In these, and other events like this, our concern too often is focused on what other persons think, not what God demands.  And what is it that he commands?  “Be perfect” (Mt 5:48).  Yes, the gospel is challenging.  But who among us, when standing before the judgment seat, will dare to throw at that excuse when the Lord Himself promised: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9)?  Let us do the right thing today and every day.

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