July 25, Feast of St. James the Apostle
Today is the feast of St. James the Apostle. He and his brother John were among the first disciples of Jesus. (Mt 4:21-22; Mk 1:10-20.) A late tradition says that James preached the Gospel in Spain, then returned to Jerusalem where he was martyred by King Herod. (Acts 12:1-3a)
Today’s Gospel tells the story of the mother of James and John asking Jesus to… command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right hand and other at your left in your Kingdom… (Mt 20:20-28).
Jesus promises that they will share Jesus’ chalice (suffering) (Jer 25:15). But their place in the Kingdom is the Father’s to give. Remember that all of the Apostles except St. John, the beloved disciple, shared in the martyrdom of Jesus.
Then Jesus reminds all of the Apostles and indeed all of us that Jesus came to serve and to give his life that all of us might have a place in God’s Kingdom. Jesus came to announce the coming of God’s Kingdom even now. His ministry of compassion and care, healing and forgiveness given even to sinners begins the Kingdom among us. The Apostles continues this mission of Jesus begun now and brought to fulfillment in the when Jesus will come again.
The first reading from St. Paul’s second letter to his beloved community at Corinth, an isthmus in south-central Greece, contains one of my favorite scriptural passages: … Brothers and Sisters: we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. (2 Cor 4:7)
Paul then describes the sufferings he had undergone to bring the gift of faith in Jesus to the Corinthians during his missionary journeys. Paul identifies his sufferings with the sufferings of Jesus that Paul underwent so that he could bring the life of Jesus to the early believing community in Corinth. Once again we see that the disciples of Jesus continue his mission until it’s fulfillment in the future return of Jesus.
That mission of Jesus is now carried on by us, Jesus’ present-day disciples. Even in the midst of Covid 19, the marchers in our cities and the toppling of statues… even in the midst of this confusion and anger and fear – we are meant to bring God’s Kingdom of service and compassion, care and forgiveness. We are meant to be people of the Culture of life, as St. John Paul the Second preached. We are meant to be at the service of our common home as Pope Francis encourages us. We now live Jesus’ message and mission in our world.
We pray for the help of Jesus’ Apostles and this day we ask St. James to strengthen us with courage as we follow in his footsteps as a disciple of Jesus.
Fr. Don Ware, C.P.