25 July – Feast Day of St James, Apostle
Son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of Saint John the Apostle, and may have been Jesus’ cousin. He is called “the Greater” simply because he became an Apostle before Saint James the Lesser. Apparent disciple of Saint John the Baptist. Fisherman. He left everything when Christ called him to be a fisher of men. Was present during most of the recorded miracles of Christ. Preached in Samaria, Judea, and Spain. First Apostle to be martyred.
The pilgrimage to his relics in Compostela became such a popular devotion that the symbols of pilgrims have become his emblems, and he became patron of pilgrims. His work in Spain, and the housing of his relics there, led to his patronage of the country and all things Spanish; for centuries, the Spanish army rode to battle with the cry “Santiago!” (“Saint James!”)
Like all men of renown, many stories grew up around James. In one, he brought back to life a boy who had been unjustly hanged, and had been dead for five weeks. The boy‘s father was notified of the miracle while he sat at supper. The father pronounced the story nonsense, and said his son was no more alive than the roasted fowl on the table; the cooked bird promptly sat up, sprouted feathers, and flew away.
– The Patron Saint Index
2 Corinthians 4:7-15
We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us. We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair; we have been persecuted, but never deserted; knocked down, but never killed; always, wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body. Indeed, while we are still alive, we are consigned to our death every day, for the sake of Jesus, so that in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus, too, may be openly shown. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
But as we have the same spirit of faith that is mentioned in scripture – I believed, and therefore I spoke – we too believe and therefore we too speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us with Jesus in our turn, and put us by his side and you with us. You see, all this is for your benefit, so that the more grace is multiplied among people, the more thanksgiving there will be, to the glory of God.
The mother of Zebedee’s sons came with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her, ‘What is it you want?’ She said to him, ‘Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus answered. ‘Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ ‘Very well,’ he said ‘you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.’
When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered
It is very easy for us to complain about the stress which we face in our lives and to blame all the circumstances around us without considering the fact that we are Christians and that therefore as Christians, we can draw strength from Christ in ensuring that we stay focused on the work which we are called to do.
St James the apostle certainly faced such an issue when he had to go preach the Good News to all around him. He willingly bore the faith as a witness even unto death. The Acts of the Apostles records how Herod Agrippa beheaded him to please the Jewish opponents of Christianity. This is certainly a far cry from the ease which he expected to be seated on the right and left hand of Jesus in the Gospel we read today.
From this episode it has made me realise that Christianity is a religion of action. We need to understand that for the world to see love, we need to show it to others. This principle of love is not only meant for us to abide in our worship but for us to continue to show it in our actions to all around us. I believe that the true mark of a Christian is to follow the example of St James, who never flinched from the difficulties in life but bore them in charity due to the total belief in Jesus whom He offered all his work.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Dear Lord, let us remember to draw strength from you so that we can continue to spread the work you have asked us to do.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for people who put God’s love in action.