Glorious Cross March 5
For you have given your children a sacred time for the renewing and purifying of their hearts, that, freed from disordered affections, they may so deal with the things of this passing world as to hold rather to the things that eternally endure. (Preface, Lent II).
The Letter of St. James speaks about the root of all conflicts in the community as the egotistical tendencies of the heart that ravage fraternal relationships. To overcome them, it is necessary to discover and acknowledge them, to detest and resist them. This is not easy because egotism strongly defends itself. It does not want to be dethroned. The egotist offers many justifications for the behavior and turns attention toward others: “Me, envious? Not possible! Me, jealous? Never! Me, bad? Inconceivable! If you want to see some really vile tendencies, look at the others.” To loathe and counter egotism is difficult because that is felt as attacking one’s very person. Excuses are made not to fight it: “Mortification of my desires is a practice now passé, self-denial is an unenlightened idea. You have to stay positive.” But the challenge of James remains: submit, resist, purify, discipline, lament, weep, humble yourself. According to James, the training of the will through mortification of human desires is what awakens the conscience to a future of participation in Christ’s glory.
When the ostrich has to fly, it claims, “I am a camel” and when it has to carry a load, it claims, “I’m a bird.” (Arab)