That title sounds scandalous… that’s what you might think if you were to read that title outside of the context of today’s reading. In the Epistle today, St. James urges us to show no partiality. Why should we do this? Primarily because God shows no partiality. For our Lord, it does not matter if a man is rich, or poor, but we must remember that it is the poor who are the heirs of the kingdom of God. When we see the poor enter into our churches, we should give him the finest of clothes, feed him, wash his feet and welcome him because he is an heir of heaven. How much do we do this for our poor and homeless? The answer is not much. Yet, St. James likes to show us that the man who seeks the rich man’s money and partiality, will find that he will be judged to the fullest extent of the law.
In this St. James points towards the royal law and in particular the law of liberty which is the second commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (see James 2:8). St. James points out that showing partiality is against God and neighbor because you have belittled the dignity of the person, who is in the image and likeness of God. This partiality gives rise that judgement is one that can be done without consequence, but the royal law forbids this. St. James reminds us that we are to treat all persons as equal, the poor and the rich. They are all poor sinners called to conversion of heart. We therefore must enter into the life of Christ so that we may ask God our forgiveness, because we do this all the time without knowing, or realizing. How many times have you looked upon a homeless person and refused to look at him, or to give him attention, but rather return to your office and make small talk with your boss for that nice promotion? Have you greeted one customer as a worthy patron, but greeted another with no interest at all? These are all partiality and are against the royal law and the law of liberty.
Let our challenge then be that we turn our hearts to Christ and beg his forgiveness. The final verses remind us “Mercy triumphs over Judgement” and Christ’s words “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt. 5:7) ring true in our ears. So let us pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us” and show mercy and non-partiality to all people, that we may obtain the mercy of Christ our savior.