Doth a fountain send forth, out of the same hole, sweet and bitter water?  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear grapes; or the vine, figs? So neither can the salt water yield sweet. Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew, by a good conversation, his work in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter zeal, and there be contentions in your hearts; glory not, and be not liars against the truth.  For this is not wisdom, descending from above: but earthly, sensual, devilish.
 For where envying and contention is, there is inconstancy, and every evil work.  But the wisdom, that is from above, first indeed is chaste, then peaceable, modest, easy to be persuaded, consenting to the good, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, without dissimulation.  And the fruit of justice is sown in peace, to them that make peace. Doth a fountain send forth, out of the same hole, sweet and bitter water?
From whence are wars and contentions among you? Are they not hence, from your concupiscences, which war in your members?  You covet, and have not: you kill, and envy, and can not obtain. You contend and war, and you have not, because you ask not.  You ask, and receive not; because you ask amiss: that you may consume it on your concupiscences. Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God.  Or do you think that the scripture saith in vain: To envy doth the spirit covet which dwelleth in you?
 But he giveth greater grace. Wherefore he saith: God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble
I was singing the epistle and somethings came to mind…in particular in verse 3 (I don't dare quote the NAB, which was the translation used in the Liturgy): You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss: that you may consume it on your concupiscences.
As we know from the catechism, concupiscence is the tendency towards sin, or an intense human desire.
We often times put ourselves first, when we're asking for things in prayer. I know I tend to fall into this trap too. So often we often ask, Why doesn't God answer our prayers…and often times the answer given is that God answers all prayers, and in His will, this is most certainly true, but perhaps, also we asked for something that will confirm us in our weaknesses? (Think of, I really want that 105' flat screen ;)….or I want car x)…God in His infinite Wisdom, knows our weaknesses and He will not confirm us in our weaknesses, as He wants us to get closer to Him…and confirming us in our weaknesses will not do such.
Perhaps the questions we should ask when praying are:
1. Does what I'm asking for lead me closer to Him? If yes, ask in prayer…if NOT, don't.
2. Am I seeking to do my own will or God's? Of course the latter isn't given with some lightbulb moment with unicorns and dancing rainbows.
Another thing that came to my mind during the singing of the Epistle: in verse 6 "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. "
Pride is of course a major form of idolatry, and all of us can fall into it. It comes in its various forms. I can tell you for myself, I'm one of the most self-determined people on the face of the planet….often times there are times when I should break myself and seek help, but I refuse because I do not want the help. (I of course am trying to fix this, but it's rather difficult)…giving grace to the humble. But of course humility is not merely a public display. Humility is the recognition that everything is God's first, yours last. (if at all). As I've mentioned before on this blog it'd be a false sense of humility to place one's own preferences ahead of one's duties. Something that comes to mind is the letter Pope Benedict XVI sent to the Bishops involving the removing of the excommunications of the SSPX Bishops. His grace is most certainly a free gift, we must certainly choose to accept it.
Upon doing some self reflecting, I can see situations where I've done the exact opposite of humility. It's quite tempting to want to go in and change things right away. (In certain situations it's absolutely necessary)….It's more humble to work with someone you disagree with than overtake them with might. The questions to think on humility are:
1. Do we recognize our gifts as from God, or from our own so called merits?
2. Are there situations where we exalt ourselves and our own preferences rather than working within what is given?
I pray that all of us are able to grow in both our prayer life and our humility in our daily lives and actions.