This feast honors St. James the Greater, one of the Apostles closest to Christ and the first of the Twelve to be martyred
Reflections on the readings for the Feast of St. James (July 25, 2022): 2 COR 4:7-15; PS 126:1-2,2-3,4-5,6; MT 20:20-28
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
After Jesus died and rose from the tomb, after His Ascension, and after Pentecost, the Apostles went their various ways in order to fulfill their roles in spreading the Good News far and wide.
Jesus chose twelve Apostles to travel with Him, to learn from Him and, eventually, to preach His message to the world and help build His Church. But none of these men would seem to be likely choices. Most of them were ordinary workmen, very possibly illiterate. A couple of them were even know for their fiery temperament as the Sons of Thunder. And it is one of these we celebrate today -- St. James the Greater. He was a fisherman and the brother of St. John. Along with St. Peter, they were the closest of the Twelve to Jesus. He invited them to be with Him at three miraculous events: the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, the raising of Jairus daughter, and the Transfiguration. But when we hear today’s Gospel reading, we might wonder exactly what Christ saw in James and John. Their mother went to Jesus to ask Him to let them at His side in the Kingdom. Clearly, they were proud and pushy enough to want this honor for themselves. Even when He told them that they had no idea what they were asking they pursued their request. They said that they could indeed drink from His chalice. Not surprisingly, the whole discussion angered the other Apostles. So Jesus used this difficult moment to instruct all of them on what leadership must mean to every one of His disciples, especially those with the greatest authority: “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 20:26-28).
After Jesus died and rose from the tomb, after His Ascension, and after Pentecost, the Apostles went their various ways in order to fulfill their roles in spreading the Good News far and wide. It is possible that James traveled as far as Spain to preach. However, it was in Jerusalem that he met his death. The Acts of the Apostles says that King Herod Agrippa had him put to the sword, that is, beheaded, probably around 44 A.D. St. James was the first of the Apostles to be martyred in the name of Christ. He, like the so many others, did, indeed drink the cup of Christ according to the will of God.