25 July 2006

St. James the Greater

There is an adage that says, "If you pray for rain, you'd better bring an umbrella." Be careful what you ask for -- you just might get it!

In today's Gospel, we have the Mother of James and John asking Jesus to give them places of honor in his Kingdom. In his reply, Jesus hints at his suffering and death; he asks the two brothers if they can drink of his chalice and they both respond, "We can!" And tradition tells us that it was St. James who was the first apostle to suffer martyrdom under Herod around the year 42 A.D.

A cursory check of the letter of James demonstrates that he earned his name "Boanerges" (sons of thunder) for his firm and effective preaching. Although there is a great deal of legend that surrounds the devotion to this heroic saint, we can learn a powerful lesson from St. James: those who have left behind many things to follow Christ can be used by God as his instruments. In the call of the disciples, St. Peter leaves behind his nets, St. Matthew leaves behind his customs post and St. James, we learn, left behind his father. Each of us is called to leave behind something of his former life when we set out to follow Jesus. For some it is a lifestyle, for others it may be something material, and still others are called to leave behind family and friends. And just as the Lord used St. James to draw many people to himself, so we, too, can be available instruments in the hands of the Lord when we answer the call to follow him.

"We cannot continually have the presence of God; that belongs to the angels. When we do something for God, that is living in his presence."
St. Francis de Sales

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