St. James, Apostle - Jul 25

St. James, Apostle,
2 Cor 4:7-15 / Matthew 20:20-28

We are special: He who raised Jesus will raise us.

Eighty-year-old John Quincy Adams was shuffling along outside his home one day. A neighbor greeted him, saying, “How’s Mr. John Quincy Adams this morning?” The eighty-year-old replied: “John Quincy Adams himself is very well, thank you. But the house he lives in is sadly dilapidated. It is tottering on its foundations. The walls are badly shattered, and the roof is worn. The building trembles with every wind, and I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it before long.  But he himself is very well.”

Each of us carries a treasure in our bodies. God made us to be something special.
Do we look upon ourselves as special? “The attitude toward death is changing.... No longer is it something to be feared, but rather a giving of ourselves to God. It is a total self-gift of ourselves united with Christ.” Clifford Howell
 During His life on earth, Jesus singled out three apostles out of the twelve apostles to be with Him in the special and unique moments of His ministry.They were Peter, John and James, whose feast day we celebrate today. They were with Jesus in His healing ministry as well as at the Transfiguration.

Although James had the privilege of being in the inner circle of the apostles, he did not quite understand the mission and purpose of Jesus. As we heard in the gospel, he and his brother John had ideas about getting special positions in the earthly kingdom that they thought Jesus was going to establish. But for all his misconceptions, James wanted to be with Jesus.

He had found the one whom he wanted to follow, even though he had yet to understand fully that his Master came to serve and to eventually give His life as a ransom for many. Nonetheless, in the end, St. James would be the first among the apostles to give up his life in witness to his Master. So even though St. James was in the inner circle of the apostles, he was an earthenware jar that holds the privilege of being chosen by Jesus.

The 1st reading reminds us that like St. James, we are also earthenware jars holding the treasures of God. Like St. James, let us pour out these treasures in love and service to God and neighbour. We can only inherit the kingdom of God when we give up our lives for others.

There is a popular pilgrimage in Europe that is known as the Compostela.It is a traditional pilgrimage to the grave of St. James and it is known as the "Way of St. James". According to legend, the remains of St. James are held in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Spain), and St. James is also the patron saint of Spain. And according to the local tradition, St. James went as far as Spain to preach the gospel, and there he had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and then he returned to Judea where shortly after he was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa in the start of the persecution of the Church.

Hence he was the first of the apostles to be martyred and the first of the apostles to offer his life in witnessing to Christ. Yes, St. James drank the cup that his Master drank and like his Master, he also offered his life as a ransom for many.

This feast of St. James also reminds us that our life is a pilgrimage on earth in a journey towards our eternal home in heaven. In this pilgrimage we understand what St. Paul said in the 1st reading - We are only earthenware jars that hold the treasures of God.

Like St. James, let us pour out our life in service of God and others, so that, as the 1st reading puts it - the more grace is multiplied among people, the more thanksgiving there will be to the glory of God.
Saturday July 25 

James became a disciple of Jesus together with his brother John. He was, with Peter and John, among the apostles closest to Jesus, witnessing the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter, the Lord’s transfiguration and agony. A “son of thunder” in his zeal for the kingdom, he proposed a hard line against those who did not accept the gospel. But Jesus told him that his task was not to destroy but to save. James himself experienced the consequences of the hard line when he died a martyr’s death, thus sharing Jesus’ cup of sacrifice as the Lord had foretold him. 

-Lord, through St. Paul, you remind us that we may afflicted in many ways, but not destroyed;
-Lord, through St. Paul, you remind us that we may perplexed, but not driven to despair;
-Lord through St. Paul you remind us that we may have many enemies, but never without a friend

Opening Prayer 
Lord our God, Your Son Jesus was your equal and yet he made himself our brother and servant. May his Spirit be alive in us, as he was alive in St. James, and dispose us to become, like your Son, powerless and vulnerable so that we can serve one another, especially in the weakest of our brothers and sisters. In this way may people experience how bold you make our love. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

James and John had a long way to go in understanding the nature of the mission of Christ. Jesus chose them knowing well that their intentions in following him were mixed and needed refinement. True enough, the lack of refinement in their intentions showed. In today’s narrative, we see how focused James and John were on receiving powerful positions in the Kingdom. Ironically, they would receive powerful positions, but not in the manner and style they or their mother had expected. They would have to walk the Way of Christ and drink his cup before they would receive his power and glory. They had to walk a long way with Jesus, a walk during which their life would gradually change. One of the famous pilgrimage centers in Europe is El Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James. Pilgrims walk the path to the tomb of St James in the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Ideally, the pilgrimage begins at one’s home and ends at the Cathedral. Ideally, the walk transforms the pilgrim. It definitely takes a long, reflective walk with Christ to purify our intentions and learn what it means to drink his cup and share his cross before we can receive his glory. Let us walk the Way with St. James. 

– That the basic attitude of our Christian leaders, bishops, priests, lay ministers, may be a spirit of service to their people, we pray:
– That those who are persecuted may never despair but keep trusting in the Lord, we pray:
– That no difficulties may keep our missionaries from preaching the Lord, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Lord our God, your Son asks us to drink with him the cup of self-sacrificing service. Let Jesus fill us with that love which alone can understand that to be great is to serve others and to use up our lives to give them a chance to live May we seek no other reward than to share the destiny of Jesus, our Lord and Savior for ever. 

Prayer after Communion 
Lord our God, your Son Jesus Christ gave his life for his friends and lighted in them a fire that cannot be extinguished. Strengthened by the bread of Life may we follow St. James, your apostle and martyr, in his total and lasting dedication to the kingdom of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Our attitude in life is too much that we want to be served. It’s easy and pleasant. Jesus tells us that we have to learn how to serve. That is what will bring us true happiness. May almighty God give us that attitude and bless us, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.