Saturday July 25, 2020. Feast of Saint James the Apostle
The apostle James, the Evangelist, was a fisherman. The gospels tell us that James and John left their father and followed Jesus as soon as he called them. The brothers must have shared an impetuous temperament since Jesus refers to them as “Sons of Thunder.” Along with Peter, the brothers were particularly close to the Lord, being present at the rising of Jairus’ daughter, the Transfiguration, and in the garden of Gethsemane.
Although there is no account of his activities for some years after the Resurrection, Acts states that James was beheaded by order of Herod Agrippa making him the first of the Apostles to be martyred. He is known as James ‘the Greater,’ to distinguish him from the other apostle of the same name. He is a patron saint of Spain and of pilgrims. In north western Spain he is venerated at Santiago (Saint James’) de Compostela, a famous mediaeval pilgrimage destination.
James and John were two of the three apostles who were closest to Jesus. Yet they too seem to have misunderstood his message, and asked to be given the highest posts in the future kingdom. By being willing to go to his death for the sake of his message, Jesus could offer up to the Father in heaven the most perfect of lives – on behalf of all of humanity even though, on the eve of his death, he knew that his sufferings were going to be a bitter ‘cup’. The giving of his life, then, was the offering of himself as a ‘ransom’ – that lowliest of services, that self-abasement which reminds one of slavery.
On this level of service, was built his kingdom : one could distinguish oneself in such a kingdom only by the depth of generosity of one’s service. Quite possibly he means that it’s on this criterion, that the Father assigns places of honour.
So then, the mother of James and John was ‘sorely mistaken’ in what she supposed would lead to ‘promotion’ in Jesus’ kingdom.
And he uses the incident as a lesson for his disciples. ‘Greatness’ among his followers is not to be measured by one’s power to ‘lord it’ over others – rather, the opposite : it is those most willing to put themselves at the service of others, who take the prize.
Jesus says that he did not come to be served but to serve. He wants me to use my talents to serve others. How available am I? The Ignatian motto is ‘to love and serve in all things’. We are here to serve others – not to bask in comfort and power. The more good things come our way, the more we should serve the needy sisters and brothers of Jesus. Lord, give me a generous heart.
God Bless. Have a wonderful day.