Thursday, 25 July 2013

Feast of St James, The Greater: Thursday July 25th

                                                                          Saint James, The Greater
St. James the Greater<br>Apostle
St. James the Greater
Feastday: July 25
Patron of Laborers

One of the 12 (not to be confused with St James Minor, also an apostle). The Brother of John, the son of Zebede.  But not just any  one of them. He and his brother (along with Peter) are often the ones that are alone with him during certain pivotal moments of his ministry.  When Jesus raised Jairus' daughter when all thought her dead, he only allowed them to come with him. These 3 were the witnesses to his transfiguration on the mountain, as he spoke to Moses and  Elijah. On the negative side, they are also the Apostles who wanted special privileges -as we see in today's Gospel- and the ones who fell asleep in Gethsemane when Jesus needed them the most. 
  While his name is not mentioned very often after the resurrection, like the other Apostles his life was forever changed that day, and he was ready to give his life for Jesus. He was in fact one of the first Martyrs of the Church, and the first Apostle to be martyred. He was executed  by order of King Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great (who tried to kill the infant Jesus--Matthew 2), nephew of Herod Antipas (who killed John the Baptist--Mark 6--and examined Jesus on Good Friday--Luke 23), and father of Herod Agrippa II (who heard the defence of Paul before Festus--Acts 25). James was the first of the Twelve to suffer martyrdom, and the only one of the Twelve whose death is recorded in the New Testament. (Acts 12) Before his death, legend has it that he was instrumental in bringing the faith to Spain, ( in Spanish, the name Santiago refers to this St James. The famous Santiago de  Compostela bears his name.) though there is no historical evidence for this.

Death of St. James, from a 19thC woodcut
in about 42 ad, St James is beheaded

Reflections:  There is something very comforting to me about the apostles. We see it throughout the New Testament:their humanity.  It's expressed in their joy around Jesus, and their deep faith in his mission, but also in their  confusion towards him, their fear of what lies ahead, their inability to wrap their mind around the message Jesus is communicating to them. As we see in today's Gospel, there's even a desire for special status, almost a sense of entitlement that creeps in: " Who will have the honor to  sit on Jesus' right/left? Who's got greater power etc..."  If they who spent every day with him were so imperfect in their fellowship, how much more will we, who have never met him on earth, stumble? How much more will we struggle to be faithful to this call of discipleship?  

 What's key here though, is that while St James did stumble a lot in his faith, in his walk with Christ...once the fullness of revelation was shown to him, he never turned his back on giving his entire life to bringing the Gospel into the world -as far off as Spain, as the legends around him tell us!-  This moment, this post resurrection revelation,  is his real conversion.  He did experience a call with his brother, and that moment was so important to him that they both left everything behind -family,career etc..- and began following Jesus. However, it wasn't the fullness of their conversion. that would happen only once they saw the risen Christ, and suddenly understood what it was that he had been teaching them for 3 years.

 This is the moment that gave he and others, the strength to be a servant for others, to love the world as Christ had loved it. To, as the 2nd passage today proclaims, recognize their despair and sadness living in this world that had rejected Christ, but to be fueled by Jesus' love for them, to never lose hope, never despair, and always be renewed by the Gospel of hope, love, and justice. St James' life was indeed cut short, but his act of love still reverberates to us today, not as a role model, something we should imitate, but as a lesson in the depth of God's love for us. Through St James, and through the communion of Saints, may we never stop learning about that depth, and may we learn to  be Saints for our own 21st century.
2 Corinthians 4: 7 - 15

7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.
8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
11For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
12So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke," we too believe, and so we speak,
14knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.
15For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Psalms 126: 1 - 6

1When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
2Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
3The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
4Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb!
5May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy!
6He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Matthew 20: 20 - 28

20Then the mother of the sons of Zeb'edee came up to him, with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something.21And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom."22But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to him, "We are able."23He said to them, "You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."24And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.25But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.26It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant,27and whoever would be first among you must be your slave;28even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

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