Feast of Saint James, Apostle
2 Corinthians 4:7-15
What was the mother of James and John thinking? Jesus has just finished talking about his betrayal, the subsequent suffering and death and his rising to life on the third day. The mother of James and John didn’t want to miss this opportunity to push the envelope. Like any other mother or parents, she wanted the best for her sons. Which mother, or parents, wouldn’t want to see their children doing well in life? She actually kneels down and comes with a straight forward request. The request probably took Jesus by surprise!
Jesus tries to be patient with the mother and the two brothers and explains to them what it all entails. He understands the indignation of the other disciples. He tries to convince them that success in his Kingdom does not consist in prestige and power, but in following the way of Jesus, their leader.
However, what happens to James and John eventually is what we celebrate today. They didn’t back off because Jesus challenged them. We can be sure that the sons of Zebedee must have been deeply struck and moved by Jesus’ words, for James began preaching with great zeal. James will ultimately drink the ‘cup’ that Jesus drank when he will be put to death shortly after the death of Jesus.
We can easily get discouraged and disappointed by life’s challenges. It is easy to get carried away by our achievements and fame. We can easily lose sight of what God wants us to be. Sometimes we just get it all wrong. Sometimes we just need to stop, re-focus and re-align. It is both a challenge and opportunity for us to bring God’s love, care and compassion through the various roles that we play in our lives. It is a privileged task as God’s children. This feast also reminds us that while grace is God’s free gift, there is a cost to discipleship.
Writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul reminds us: God who said, Let the light shine out of darkness, has also made the light shine in our hearts to radiate and to make known the Glory of God, as it shines in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:6)… we hold this treasure in earthen vessels!
Fr. Bruno D’Souza, CP, is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.