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July 25. Saint James, Apostle

Mass Readings + homily notes for special feasts and memorials

Material already online at the Association of Catholic Priests website
(edited by Fr. Pat Rogers)

For full range of memorials
click here


 

1st Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15.

We hold a treasure in a clay jar. Paul is willing to die, that others may have life

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture — "I believed, and so I spoke" — we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Gospel: Matthew 20:20-28.

To the ambition of James and John, Jesus teaches about humble service

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to him, "We are able." He said to them, "You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be our servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

The lesser James

James, son of Alphaeus is often identified with James the Less, who is only mentioned three times in the Bible, each time in connection with his mother. Mark 15:40 refers to "Mary the mother of James and of Joses", while Mark 16:1 and Matthew 27:56 also refer to "Mary, the mother of James". As there was a more prominent James (the son of Zebedee) among the twelve apostles, today's James, the son of Alphaeus is called the "Lesser" James. (James of Zebedee being "James the Greater"). Tradition identifies Clopas, the husband of Mary, with Alphaeus, the father of the Apostle James. This identification was accepted by early church leaders and so our ssint todai is James the Less, a cousin of Jesus himself.

The "greater" James was one of the first disciples to join Jesus, in Capernaum. The Synoptics describeJames and John as fishermen with their father when Jesus called them to follow him [Matt. 4:21-22; Mk. 1:19-20]. He was one of the three apostles Jesus chose as witnesses to his Transfiguration. The Acts of the Apostles says that Agrippa I had James executed by sword [Ac 12:1-2]. We also hear of James' fiery temper, for which he and his brother earned the nickname "Boanerges" or "Sons of Thunder" [Mark 3:17].

It is the remains of James the Less that are reputed to be in Compostela in Galicia (Spain) and this James is the Patron Saint of Spain. Santiago de Compostela is considered the third holiest shrine within Roman Catholicism (after Jerusalem and Rome), and the traditional pilgrimage to his tomb, known as the "Camino de Santiago", has been popular with Europeans from the early Middle Ages onwards. In light of the many thousands who walk the Camino each year, one might even regard St James as patron of environmentally friendly tourism.