Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Saint James, Apostle and Martyr

Happy Feast of Saint James the Apostle! 

Saint James, the brother of Saint John and the son of Zebedee, was the leader of the church in Jerusalem and the first of “the Twelve” to suffer martyrdom. 

He was beheaded around 44 a.d., and the event is recounted in the New Testament: "King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword" (Acts 12:2).

Today’s first reading is appropriate for this feast. The words of Saint Paul regarding the fruitfulness of the suffering of his own Apostolic ministry certainly apply to the blood shed by Saint James in Jerusalem nearly two thousand years ago. From the Holy Land (a land of too much conflict down the centuries even to the present day) to the Shrine of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain on the threshold of the Atlantic Ocean (a place of pilgrimage for centuries which claims some of his relics) to the whole world of every place and time (to which he and his companions were originally commissioned to witness to Jesus Christ), Saint James’s witness and suffering continue to bear fruit, accompanied by the constant solicitude of his intercession.

“We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

“So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written—I believed, therefore I spoke,’— we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:7-15).