St. James also gives us the antidote to this poison of our sin: he gives us the wisdom we need to live the Word and be saved. He reminds us of the wisdom that comes from above: it is pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant and merciful. Wisdom is always consistent and sincere; and a life lived in this wisdom is a life of righteousness and peace, war and conflict are fruitless pursuits.
St. James warns us: “You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain…You ask but do not receive…” (Sounds fruitless to me…) It is our passion in ambition and in jealousy that foment conflict among us. As disciples we are called to strive for righteousness, to use the wisdom from above to guide our lives and choices. I saw a bumper sticker recently that says it succinctly: “No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace.”
Today in the Gospel Jesus teaches the disciples (and us) a lesson of living in God’s wisdom: He gives us directions to avoid ambition and jealousy—and thereby living a life of true service in Christ. He says: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Jesus goes on: “Whoever receives one child… in my name, receives me…” Children of Jesus’ day were the most powerless of people (and in our day too, for all intents and purposes). To receive a child is to give assistance to someone, to anyone, who may be helpless⎯and is usually unable to ever return your support in kind. This is the opposite of ambition and jealousy. To live a life in service of the helpless and powerless is to live a righteous life, to know Jesus and know His peace. Now that’s the ambition I want!