Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
PRAYER OF FAITH
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)St. James uses the word ‘ecclesia’ to denote the Assembly of faith or the community of faith. It is more than the sum of its parts. It is in this community, that one is in trouble, one is happy and one is sick (Vs 5:13). Therefore, St. James emphasizes the ministry of community formation and community living. Community responsibilities include the function of prayer and turning a sinner from error.
1. Ministry of turning a sinner from error
This passage is not trying to say that sickness is due to sin. That can be a reason! But this passage is pointing to the function of the faith community. Verses 19 and 20 say that a member of the faith community will feel responsible to turn the mind of a wanderer in that community and thereby helping him to overcome multitude of sins and also to find salvation from death. This is a ministry of the local parish. In a world of arrogance, church is an alternative community that grows with solidarity and cooperation.
2. Ministry of prayer with faith
St. James is speaking about the prayer of Elijah that was heard (vs 17-18). He asserts that the prayer of the righteous person is powerful and effective (vs 16). This Bible passage is speaking about the local parish as the family of families where each member feels the need of the other. This is an expression of solidarity of the community. The ‘otherness’ will vanish when members of the parish will confess their sins to each other and pray in faith for healing of the body, mind and spirit. It is in this context that the sacrament of unction is to be understood (vs 14-15). It is an expression of community’s commitment and support in a time of crisis. Healing comes from above and as the grace of God; likewise the forgiveness of sin. The prayer of the faith will save the sick person (and the sick community).
Prayer: Lord, help us to recognize the ministry of healing and the experience of salvation in the context of our Church life. Amen.
Rt. Rev. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Theodosius, Sinai, New York