It seems both St. James and Our Lord are having rough days today.
But, as we prep for Lent, these are both good wake up calls to the need for ongoing conversion of heart.
The rich become comfortable and rest on their laurels while the needy languish around them. St. James is highlighting what happens when faith is not continually put in to action, as he has called forth throughout his letter. It will slowly die on the vine and then when called upon... nothing.
Our Lord makes a similar challenge, especially to those who lead others, particularly in ministry. "Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin..."
This is the technical definition of scandal and why scandal is such a pervasive thing within the faith community. It leads others to lose hope, to stop striving for greatness, to utter those most disheartening of words, 'well, if he's doing it, I can as well...'
As we enter Lent next week, a particular focus for the early stages might be to find those hidden areas of life that keep us from the greatness and holiness to which Christ calls us all.