Mass Reading & Meditation for July 25, 2013
Meditation: Matthew 20:20-28
Saint James, Apostle
“You do not know what you are asking.” (Matthew 20:22)
The apostle James, whose feast we celebrate today, was there, with John and Peter, when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37-43). He also saw Jesus’ Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-2). Yet even though James was so close to Jesus, today’s Gospel reveals just how far he had rto go.
When we read of James and John’s maneuvering—Mom asking for “preferred seating” in the kingdom—we wonder how they could have sought godly greatness in such worldly terms. And we might shake our heads at their bold assertion that they could drink the same cup as Jesus. Of course we wouldn’t have been so dense, we think. But then, hindsight is always twenty-twenty.
Later, in Gethsemane, James didn’t know what to make of Jesus’ agonizing prayer. Yet after Jesus revealed himself to the apostles on Easter and after they received the Spirit at Pentecost, James came to understand what Jesus meant when he said that he came to give his life as a ransom (Matthew 20: 28). In fact, James’ vision became so clear that he decided to spread the good news about Jesus perhaps as far as Spain. Finally, when the moment of supreme witness came, he didn’t draw back. James was the first of the apostles to drink the cup of Jesus’ passion when King Herod Agrippa had him “killed by the sword ” (Acts 12:1-2).
In the end, James proved himself to be one of the great heroes of the early Church. He gave up his whole life to follow Jesus, and in the end he sacrificed that life out of love for the Lord and his people. Ironically, James did end up sitting at Jesus’ right hand, along with his fellow apostles and martyrs. Only now, instead of basking in his exalted position, he is worshipping the Lord and urging us to follow his example of heroic dedication. May we all follow his example.
“Lord, Almighty ever-living God, who consecrated the first fruits of your Apostles by the blood of Saint James, grant, we pray that your Church may be strengthened by his confession of faith and constantly sustained by his protection.” (Roman Missal)
2 Corinthians 4:7-15; Psalm 126:1-6