As we look forward to Pentecost, to the Day when God’s Spirit filled that little bundle of followers of Jesus with the Spirit and gave them the “power to”, we are led to see that at the core of that community is a virtue, the virtue of loving the other as oneself. So, in chp 24 of 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed I turn to the brother of Jesus, James, who rather surprisingly uses his memory to nurture love.
I’m guessing here, but when it comes to guessing, this is a pretty good one. James had the same mother as did Jesus, Mary. Mary, if tradition is right, was a widow. And, if tradition is also right, Mary and James and the family was poor.
This explains very well why James makes the following two statements, statements that derive from experience and memory. And these two statements are model for us: let’s use our own memories, memories of our experiences, to guide us into seeing where we might extend love and compassion. First, James reminds his readers of their experience with oppression:
James 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
Second, James draws from his own memory what it was like to be an orphan (anyone with one parent missing was an orphan in that world) and have a widowed mother:
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
What in your memoried experience can you draw on to extend grace?