Feast of Saint James the Greater, Apostle, July 25
In Spite of the Many Difficulties We Sometimes Face in Life, We Can Look to the Example of Saint James Who Carried the Seed of Faith to be Sown, and Returned Carrying His Sheaves of Eternal Glory.
Jesus says to James and his brother John in today’s Gospel, “My chalice you will indeed drink…”
The cup of suffering, the cup of eternal glory, became the destiny of many of our Lord’s disciples, and James was the first of the Apostles to be martyred, killed by the sword by order of King Herod Agrippa I.
Today, we celebrate the Feast of Saint James the Greater, the brother of Saint John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father, Zebedee, in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. James, along with his brother John and together with Peter, was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus and our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.
There are two incidents in the Gospels which best describe the temperament of James and his brother. The first incident we read in today’s Gospel, where their mother requests a place of honor for her sons in Jesus’ Kingdom. When our Lord asks if they are willing to experience what He must endure, they reply, “We can.” Our Lord then replies, “My chalice you will indeed drink…” but goes on to tell them that their lives must be one of humility and service towards others.
The second incident was when people in a Samaritan village did not welcome Jesus, since He was on His way to Jerusalem. And because Samaritans and Jews for the most part, despised each other, both James and John asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” And it is most probably due to this incident and their impetuous zeal that they received the nickname “Sons of Thunder”.
When we look at James, who is it that we see? First, we know that he was personally called by Christ to be one of His favored disciples – the chosen Twelve. But more important than this, we find within James’ humanity an example of our own flawed human nature.
At times, James was filled with feelings of self-importance, and each time our Lord would have to show him the way to true holiness. He would boast that he could drink from the cup from which Christ would drink, but, like so many others, he also fled when Christ was arrested, tortured and crucified.
But in spite of their human flaws, our Lord never abandoned His disciples. Jesus once promised them, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth…I will not leave you orphans.”
James and the others were strengthened with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. As a result, all became staunch defenders of Christ’s teachings, and never wavered in spite of persecution and the threat of physical death.
The Apostles, by the lives which they lived, remind us that the way which leads to Christ – the pathway upon which we are called to travel which leads to personal holiness – is not always paved with gold, for our life’s journey is not always smooth sailing – for sometimes we are tossed about by the unpredictable seas of life, seas which sometimes can become quite turbulent.
And yet, as Saint Paul tells us in our First Reading, “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair.” And in the midst of the many trials and tribulations which Paul and the Apostles endured, all in the name of the Eternal Word made flesh – the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ – Paul goes on to say, “…we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.”
What a marvelous hope for both you and me, especially since being Christian in today’s world – in societies across the face of the Earth which are more and more becoming anti-Christian – is not an easy task, and may include our own persecution and martyrdom of sorts!
Our faith, our values, our moral ethics are constantly being ridiculed and attacked by secularists who practice a selfish and egocentric ideology of relativistic thinking, where one’s way of life is controlled by the principle – what “feels good” must be okay, for there is no absolute truth; therefore, there is no God!
And some relativists even go further to say that, if there is a God, there is certainly no Hell, so everything is fair game! Truth, religion, moral conduct – it’s all relative based upon the way one thinks and the way one lives!
No wonder being Christian today, in a world wherein governments and societies are no longer recognizing the importance of Christian values, is becoming increasingly more difficult!
I have posed this thought before, but I believe it bears repeating, for we read in Luke’s Gospel the words of our Lord, “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
And when we look at not only the lives of the Apostles, but also our own individual lives of discipleship, we can begin to understand, in much greater clarity, the words which our psalmist prays in today’s Responsorial Psalm, “Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves.”
In spite of the many difficulties we sometimes face in this journey of life, in spite of the valleys of tears through which we sometimes find ourselves traveling, we can look to the example of Saint James and all the other holy Apostles and disciples who carried the seed of faith to be sown, even amidst their own trials and persecutions. For, in the end, they came back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves of eternal glory!
We, too, share, in some fashion, the life of Saint James – in his zeal and love for Christ, in the weakness of his own human nature, and in his holy discipleship – as he gladly carried the seed of faith so that others may come to know and love Christ, and to be saved.
May you and I stand with James and John as our Lord Jesus asks each one of us, “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
With trust, and with a deep and abiding love and faith in the promises which our Lord has given us, may each one of us respond from the very depths of our being –
“We can!” †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Jesus said in reply, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We can.’ He replied, ‘My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’” (Matthew 20:22-23)
- “…whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26b-28)
- “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair…we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 13b-14)
- “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth…I will not leave you orphans.” (John 14:16-17a, 18a)
- “Those who go forth weeping carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.” (Psalm 126:6)
- “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the LORD…” (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)
- “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
Prayer for the Day
“Eternal and Most Loving Father,
I submit my entire self to Your holy will.
All that I am today, transform me into Your servant;
living Your Truth amongst my brothers and sisters.
“Thank You for imbuing me with Your Holy Spirit,
who guides me to live a life of righteousness,
enabling me to be all that You desire me to be,
so that I may give my best in service to Your children.
“Forgive me for my past failures,
rejecting the image of Christ in those around me.
In selfishness, I held back Your Love
and fell short in living the virtue of charity.
“Fill my heart with humility,
so that I may always fulfill Your will,
imitating the life of Your Son, Jesus,
giving love without counting the cost.
“In Jesus’ Name, I pray for this grace
for the Glory of Your Divine Majesty,
in the Presence of the Holy Spirit,
and for the well-being of my soul for all eternity. Amen.”Anonymous