John said to him, “Master, we saw someone who drove out demons by calling upon your name, and we tried to forbid him, because he does not belong to our group.” Jesus answered, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in my name can soon after speak evil of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.
James is a rather strict man, but his advice is always sound. Two instances of his wisdom are given in today’s first reading.
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Why is this? Because the devil is essentially a proud spirit. When we resist his wiles and he fails to make us sin, he suffers a great humiliation. And, of course he hates to lose face. That is why, after a few ineffectual attempts on us, he beats a shameful retreat and thinks twice before launching another offensive.
The second wise advice of James is “do not criticize one another.” Here we must all examine ourselves with ruthless honesty. How often do we criticize another person in a single day? Yet, as James reminds us, “who are you to judge your neighbor?“ Saints never judge people. Sometimes, with infinite tact, they will deplore someone’s bad behavior, but they will always find mitigating circumstances in favor of the culprit. You sense that they deeply respect the culprit and that they would never presume to pass judgment on anyone. Why not? Because they are so aware of their own sinfulness that they have no taste for criticizing others.
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