Feast of Saint James, Apostle

July 25, 2019

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( I am republishing last year’s post for this feast. I think it is worth another read. But to make up for my little bit of laziness, I will send another post today with a few profound quotes from Henri Nouwen’s book Can You Drink the Cup? – Ave Maria Press; 10th Anniversary edition (October 1, 2012))


Today, in Mercy, we learn a lesson in humble leadership, thanks to “Mrs. Zebedee”. Our Gospel recounts the story of the mother of James and John interceding for her sons with Jesus. Like many overprotective mothers, she intervenes in their adult lives. She wants to make sure they get the best deal for their investment with Jesus.

Veronese-Le-Christ-rencontrant-la-femme-et-les-fils-de-zebedee_-_Grenoble
Veronese-Le-Christ-Rencontrant La Femme Et Les Fils de Zebedee By Paolo Veronese

Unfortunately, “Mrs. Zebedee” has missed the whole point of Christian discipleship. Her boys have decided to follow a man who says things like this:

  • The last shall be first and the first, last.
  • Unless you lay down your life, you cannot follow me.
  • Whoever takes the lowly position of a child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The seats at Christ’s right and left, which she requests for her sons, will bring them rewards only through humility and sacrificial service.

Jesus is gentle with “Mrs. Zebedee”. He understands how hard it is for any of us to comprehend the hidden glory of a deeply Christian life. We are surrounded by a world that screams the opposite to us:

  • Me first!
  • Stand your ground!
  • Good guys finish last!

Mk 10_38 cup

So Jesus turns to James and John. One can imagine the bemused look on his face. He knows the hearts of these two men. He knows they have already given themselves to him. So he asks them for a confession of faith, “Can you drink the cup that I will drink?”

Their humble, faith-filled answer no doubt stuns their mother. She is left in wonder at the holy men her sons have become. Perhaps it is the beginning of her own deep conversion to Christ.

As we pray with this passage on the feast of St. James the Apostle, where do find ourselves in this scene? How immediate, sincere, and complete is our response to Jesus’ question: “Can you drink the cup….?”

Music: Can You Drink the Cup? (Be patient. The song has a slightly delayed start. You may have to click the white arrowhead in the orange circle- upper left. Lyrics below.😀)

Can You Drink The Cup?

Lyrics by Pamela Martin, Music by Craig Courtney
Copyright 2001, Beckenhorst Press, Inc.

Can you dring the cup,
embrace it in your hands?
Can you look inside
and face what it demands?
In the wine you see
reflections of your soul.
No one else can drink
this cup that you must hold.

Can you drink the cup?
Then you must lift it high
though this cup of joy
holds pain and sacrifice.
When you lift your cup,
raise it unafraid.
Lift it up, this cup
of life, and celebrate.

Can you drink the cup
until there is no more?
When the wine is gone,
Christ Himself will pour.
Though you drink it all
the cup is never dry,
God keeps filling it
with everlasting life.

One thought on “Mrs. Zebedee, Again

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