From the Gospel we see John checking out if Jesus was the messiah, and Jesus points them to his words and actions. As if this is important in faith Jesus turns to the crowd and points to their want to see a prophet. They came to see and hear John. Jesus tells the people that John is more then a prophet, he is to prepare the way for the Messiah and he is the greatest born of woman. This is a great claim, and yet Jesus goes on to say he is the lowest in Heaven. The greatest of man is the lowest of heaven. Where does that put the rest of us?
James’ letter is to the twelve tribes of Israel. He is therefore writing to those Jews who have come to see Jesus (Joshua) as Christ (Messiah). This group, like the Romans are in a state of change. They were trying to understand their Faith in the light of a Messiah, while the general Jewish culture was not. There would have been a number hiding their new faith hoping not to be caught out, wondering whether someone like Saul (Paul) would find them.
In this part of his letter James writes that the readers need to be patient: patient in their actions and patient in the words. As if to reflect Jesus, James also points to the prophets as an example of patience in suffering.
We come to another Christmas and we continue to wait for Jesus’ second coming. The message for us today is to stay strong, be patient. We need to keep a focus on what we believe Jesus calls us to be: to act and speak our faith.
The reason Jesus and James look to the prophets is because a prophet was open to hear God speak and willing to do what God asked no matter what the cost. Many suffered for sharing God’s word. Their lives were ones that were scrutinized.
Some may believe that prophets are born to be prophets, but our faith believes that in Christ all are prophets. It requires us to listen to God and be willing to speak and live God’s way.
We can hide our faith, and let the culture of our times dictate Christmas, or we can seek to make Christmas about opening ourselves to hear what God wants and to live it out. We do not tell people what they should believe or do. We live the love, hope and joy God offers through Jesus’ birth and declare it when asked what it is we are happy about.