The readings today are all about attitudes that lead to wisdom and life with God. In the Book of Wisdom,((WIS 2:12,17-20) “the wicked” cannot bear the behavior of the “just one” so they plot to test his gentleness and patience in an effort to find fault enough to condemn him to death. The Psalmist prays to God to save his life from the haughty ones (PS 54:3-8) and in the gospel Jesus reproaches the disciples for their desire to be “the greatest” of his followers. He says to them: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” (MK 9:30-37)
It is, however, the message of James (JAS 3:16-4:3) that is the most helpful to me this morning. He puts two questions that speak directly to the issues of humility and haughtiness that lead to harmful actions. “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?” Both war and peace begin in the hearts of each of us; desire for more of what we do not have whether of possessions or status can be our undoing. James gives great advice for living into right action when he says: “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” What more do we need to learn?