Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Feast of Saint James

James and his brother John left their boat and even their father behind, and followed Jesus.
The first thing James saw after he followed Jesus was his teaching with authority in the synagogue and the cure of Simon's mother-in-law. We all know that Jesus was the focus of James' life from then on, but it is also evident that James held a special place in Jesus' life. He was chosen by Jesus to be one of the 12, given the mission to proclaim the good news, and authority to heal and cast out demons. But even among the apostles he held a special place. When Jesus raised Jairus' daughter when all thought her dead, he only allowed James, John, and Peter to come with him. Even more important when he went up to the mountain to pray, he wanted James, John, and Peter to go with him. And it was there on the mountain they were privileged to witness what no one else had seen -- Jesus transfigured in his glory, speaking to Moses and Elijah. And with Simon Peter, James and John were the only ones of the apostles that Jesus gave a special name: Sons of Thunder.
It's no wonder then that James, along with John, felt that he had the right to go to Jesus and ask him to give them whatever they asked. When their mother asked Jesus to give them preferential treatment, they didn't see the cross in his future, but an earthly throne. But despite all these misunderstandings, it was still James, Peter, and John that Jesus chose to join him in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane for his final prayer before his arrest. It must have hurt Jesus that the three of them fell asleep on this agonizing evening.
"Saint James" by Alonso Cano
James did drink of the cup Jesus drank of, all too shortly after the Resurrection. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that James was one of the first martyrs of the Church. King Herod Agrippa killed him with a sword in an early persecution of the Church. There is a story that the man who arrested James became a convert after hearing James speak at his trial and was executed with him. James is called James the Greater because another younger apostle was named James. St James evangelized in Spain before he died and the cult of St James in Santiago de Campostela is well known as people make a long pilgrimage to visit his Cathedral in northwest Spain.

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