Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Saint of The Day #1 - St James the Greater

July 25th - St. James the Greater Today we celebrate the feast of the Apostle James, son of Zebedee. He is often called the James the Greater to distinguish him from James son of Alpheus who is called James the Less. This is not a Scripturally based description. The only factual knowledge we have of James is what is in the New Testament.According to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, James along with his brother John, was a fisherman of Galilee and was probably from Bethsaida where Peter is from. According to the information given us in the Gospels,we surmise that his family was fairly well-to-do, as we are told of his father having hired men working on his boat. His mother was named Salome and was present at Jesus crucifixion. (Mt. 27:56 and Mk. 15:40)In the Gospel of Mark 3:17, James and his brother John are given the name"Boanerges", a Greek word meaning "sons of thunder". It is believed that Jesus gave them this name because of their impetuosity and fiery spirit.(Lk. 9:54)We see James present with his brother and Peter at the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead. (Mk 5:37) They are present with Jesus at theTransfiguration on Mount Tabor (Mt 17:1) and are with Him in the inner garden of Gethsemane. (Mt. 26:37) It is James, with his brother John as well as Peter and Andrew who come to Jesus on the Mount of Olives to ask Him to explain about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. (Mk. 13:3)James' mission work has been reported by some to have extended to Spain, but this is uncertain. In the Book of Acts 15:13, we see that he is present at the Council of Jerusalem and in 12:2 we see that James was the first apostle to be martyred by Herod. Paul in Gal 2:9 talks of James as a leader with Peter and John in the Jerusalem community, so it seems unlikely that he travelled to Spain. However, as in so much of the early history of our church, many of the exact details that 20th century people seem to hunger for are known only to God.Because his is one of the names often mentioned in the New Testament Gospels and Epistles, it would seem that James with his brother John and Peter share a very intimate relationship with Jesus. And yet he seems to have normal failing as we do. In Mark 10:35-39 we hear of James with his brother John asking Jesus that they be given the seats of honor in His kingdom, although,Matthew tells us that it was their mother who did the asking. Whichever way it happened, we hear of the other apostles being angry at this. One can almost hear them say, "Who do these guys think they are, they're no better than us."When Jesus was refused admittance in a Samaritan town, James was one who wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy the town. Does this sound familiar to our own response when we or a loved one are discriminated against. Could we respond as Jesus did. His mission was not to destroy but to save, to bring love not hatred.While surely James with all his failing and fears cherished his life as much as we do ours, yet he still remained faithful to Jesus and willingly accepted the toil and danger of preaching the Good News. He faced death rather than to be untrue to his faith and commitment to God. Would that we might have that same courage and integrity to be faithful to all that we know is good and true.Saint Quote:Thou knowest well how to excuse and color thine own deeds; but thou art not willing to receive the excuses of others. It were more just that thou shouldest accuse thyself, and excuse thy brother.- Thomas à Kempis Bible Quote:"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" - Philippians 3:8-9<><><><>St James!Behold me here, once again, beside your tomb which I approach today, a pilgrim of all the pathways of the earth,to honour your memory and implore your protection.I come from luminous and perennial Rome to you who became a pilgrim, following the footprints of Christ and who brought his name and his voice to this farthest part of the earth.I come from Peter's side and, as his successor, I bring to you,to you who, with him, are a pillar of the Church,the fraternal embrace that traverses centuries and the song which resounds firm and apostolic in its catholicity.With me, St James, there is an immense and youthful flood which has surged from springs in all the countries of the world.Here, you have it, united and still in your presence,anxious to refresh its faith in the vibrant example of your life.We come to this blessed threshold in eager pilgrimage.We come immersed in this great throng which throughout the centuries has led people to Compostela where you are pilgrim and host, apostle and patron.And we come today to you because we are on a common journey.We are walking towards the end of a millennium which we want to close with the seal of Christ.We are going further still, to the beginning of a new millennium which we want to open in the name of God.St James,for this pilgrimage of ours we need your zeal and courage.For this reason, to ask them of you, we have come as far as this "finis terrae" of your apostolic adventures.Teach us, apostle and friend of Our Lord,the WAY which leads to him.Open us, preacher of the lands of Spain,to the TRUTH your learned from the Master's lips.Give us, witness of the Gospel,the strength always to love the LIFE .Place yourself, patron of pilgrims,at the head of our Christian youthful pilgrimage.And just as, in the past, the peoples walked towards you,may you be a pilgrim with us when we go to meet all peoples.With you, St James, Apostle and Pilgrim,we want to teach the nations of Europe and the world that Christ is - today and always -the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE.

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