One of those “universal” things that everyone in the world does, at one time or another, is to go “window shopping.” We just want to “browse” without buying anything. Maybe there is a little bit of envy in the deep recesses of our mind, as we look at the things we can’t afford. Maybe there is also a little bit of fantasy, as we picture ourselves in that latest designer outfit or trendy set of sports clothes. Or maybe we are just curious to see what the manufacturers are doing to appeal to our consumer lust for “more” of something we don’t need. Or, maybe we are the reluctant spouse or child, forced to tag along as wife/mother indulges her own fantasies.
Now, let’s move that symbolism to the area of religion. Consider your own expression of faith on Sundays. Are you a “window shopper,” just tagging along or showing up because someone says you “have to”? Or, perhaps you are attending Sunday worship services just hoping to be entertained by an interesting homily? It is also possible that you wore that outfit just to show off the latest fashions and get lots of attention. Maybe too, that after Mass is over, the gospel message and homily suggestion are forgotten, (Can you even dimly remember what the preacher recommended last Sunday?)
St. James is urging us today (James 1:17-27) to avoid the danger of being simply a “Christian window shopper.” God’s word is not entertainment; it is both call and invitation to a special way of life – God’s way. We are called to be “doers” of the word, not just window shoppers who won’t take action on what they see and hear.
If our hearts are open, God’s word will cause us to take action out of love, not from ritual demands. Our only “law” is to love as Christ loved us – this is the “new” law of the Holy Spirit. Letting God’s word take root and grow through our actions is how we avoid the self-deception that concerns St. James.