25Jul 25 July, 2020. Saint James, Apostle

1st Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15

Although only a “clay jar” Paul is willing to die, that others may live

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture — “I believed, and so I spoke” — we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Responsorial: Psalm 125

Response: Those who sow in tears, shall reap with shouts of joy

When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage,
it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
on our lips there were songs.(R./)

The heathens themselves said: “What marvels
the Lord worked for them!”
What marvels the Lord worked for us!
Indeed we were glad.(R./)

Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
will sing when they reap.(R./)

They go out, they go out, full of tears,
carrying seed for the sowing:
they come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their sheaves.(R./)

Gospel: Matthew 20:20-28

After the ambition of James and John, Jesus speaks of humble service

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be our servant, and whoever wishes 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 a ransom for many.”

James the Greater

St. James, known as the Greater, (to distinguish him from the other apostle James the son of Alphaeus, a cousin of Jesus), was a son of Zebedee and brother of St. John. Along with Peter and John, James son of Zebedee was a priveleged witness of the Transfiguration, as he was later also of the agony in the garden. He was beheaded in Jerusalem on the orders of Herod Agrippa, in 42 or 43 AD [Ac 12:1-2]. Since the ninth century Compostela in Spain has claimed to house his relics, though actual proof of this is hardly available. The pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella in the Middle Ages drew immense crowds, being the favourite devotional centre in Christendom after Rome and the Holy Land. This “greater” James was one of the first disciples to follow the way of Jesus. The Synoptics describe James and John as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus called them to follow him [Matt. 4:21-22; Mk. 1:19-20]. We also hear of James’ fiery temper, for which he and his brother earned the nickname “Boanerges” or “Sons of Thunder” [Mark 3:17].

The other, “lesser” James the son of Alphaeus, was head of the church in Jerusalem for several decades after Peter went elsewhere on his apostolic mission. Flavius Josephus refers to him as “brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ,” and says that he was much respected even by the Pharisees for his strict observance of the Law. Along with Peter and John, he was reputed as one of the three pillars of the church. Several texts from the Acts depict this James as an important figure. When Peter was miraculously freed from prison and had to leave Jerusalem, he asked that James be informed (12:17). When the Christians in Antioch were concerned about the conditions for Gentile converts, they sent Paul and Barnabas to confer with James. And much later, when Paul arrives in Jerusalem with the money he has raised for the faithful there, it is to James that he goes to deliver it (21:18).

As well as being honoured in Compostela in Galicia, St James the Great is the patron saint of all Spain. The traditional pilgrimage to his tomb, the “Camino de Santiago”, is still enormously popular. In light of the many thousands who walk the Camino each year, one might even regard St James as patron of environmentally friendly tourism.


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