Feast of Saint James, Apostle
July 25, 2022
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last,
says the Lord.
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the feast of one of Christ’s closest companions and the first Apostle to be martyred. James, and his brother John, held a special place in Jesus’s friendship as only they, with Peter, were invited to witness the Transfiguration.
What a journey James took in his short life: from his father Zebedee’s fishing boat, to that glorious transfiguring mountain, through the world-changing Paschal events, to a martyr’s testimony against Herod’s sword.
James’s discipleship is fired by a willingness to change and grow at God’s call. Jesus dubbed James and John with the nickname “Boanerges”, meaning “Sons of Thunder”. One can imagine them as tough and tumble, boisterous young men. Jesus captured their fire and used it to form a pillar of the faith.
In our first reading from Corinthians, Paul highlights the essence of such pure discipleship as he writes to the early Church:
For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
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.
As we pray with James today, may we be strengthened in the grace of true discipleship – reflecting God’s glory even through the “earthen vessel” of our fragile humanity. May we use our gifts – even the “thunderous” ones – to bless others with the fruits of generous and vibrant faith.
Poetry: St. James Day – John Keble
Sit down and take thy fill of joy
At God's right hand, a bidden guest,
Drink of the cup that cannot cloy,
Eat of the bread that cannot waste.
O great Apostle! rightly now
Thou readest all thy Saviour meant,
What time His grave yet gentle brow
In sweet reproof on thee was bent.
"Seek ye to sit enthroned by me?
Alas! ye know not what ye ask,
The first in shame and agony,
The lowest in the meanest task -
This can ye be? and came ye drink
The cup that I in tears must steep,
Nor from the 'whelming waters shrink
That o'er Me roll so dark and deep?"
"We can--Thine are we, dearest Lord,
In glory and in agony,
To do and suffer all Thy word;
Only be Thou for ever nigh." -
"Then be it so--My cup receive,
And of My woes baptismal taste:
But for the crown, that angels weave
For those next Me in glory placed,
"I give it not by partial love;
But in My Father's book are writ
What names on earth shall lowliest prove,
That they in Heaven may highest sit."
Take up the lesson, O my heart;
Thou Lord of meekness, write it there,
Thine own meek self to me impart,
Thy lofty hope, thy lowly prayer.
If ever on the mount with Thee
I seem to soar in vision bright,
With thoughts of coming agony,
Stay Thou the too presumptuous flight:
Gently along the vale of tears
Lead me from Tabor's sunbright steep,
Let me not grudge a few short years
With thee t'ward Heaven to walk and weep:
Too happy, on my silent path,
If now and then allowed, with Thee
Watching some placid holy death,
Thy secret work of love to see;
But, oh! most happy, should Thy call,
Thy welcome call, at last be given -
"Come where thou long hast storeth thy all
Come see thy place prepared in Heaven."
Music: Gloria for the Mass of St. James – Guillaume Dufay (1397 – 1474) was a French composer and music theorist of the early Renaissance