The readings today are what I believe to be universal truths...
James tells us all about how faith without deeds is meaningless. We've all heard the old addage that faith without works is dead. What faith do we really have if we tell a hungry person go eat and be well, but we don't help provide them something to eat. Does that make us faithful? I think not. How faithful are we to the tenets of AA if we smile and shake someone's hand, but we do not offer to listen to their concerns and share how we stayed sober through a similar situation?
Jesus teaches us this morning in Mark's Gospel that if we wish to follow Him, we must "take up our cross and follow Him." So, if we want to be with Christ, we must live as He does, bear our cross, love and serve others. If you read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, it tells us in Chapter Six "Into Action" that: "Every day is a day that we mut carry the vision of God's will into our activities. How can I best serve Thee -- Thy will not mine be done. These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our willpower along this line all we wish. It is proper use of the will."
I love this passage, it makes things crystal clear for me. It tells me that my purpose here is to serve God. The last two sentences of the chapter read like this: "Faith without works is dead. The next chapter is entirely devoted to Step Twelve." ("Working With Others"). In order to keep my recovery, my spirituality, my gratitude, I must give it away. Faith without works is dead indeed.