The WORD in Other Words by Fr. Oliver Quilab, SVD (Switzerland) on the Feast of St James the Apostle
The Apostle James the Elder is one of the twelve disciples, the son of the Zebedee and Salome, and the older brother of the apostle John. James was among the first fishermen handpicked by Jesus along the shores of Galilee. James was present in Jesus’ transfiguration, in the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, at the resuscitation of Jairus’ daughter, and during Jesus’ agonizing hours in the garden of olives.
Today’s gospel describes, perhaps, the most important lesson that James had to swallow. He and his brother John gained the moniker “sons of thunder” as they probably were impulsive and sometimes hot-headed (see Lk 9:54 where they wanted fire and brimstone to fall from heaven on in hospitable Samaritans). As Jesus announced his decisive move to Jerusalem, they instinctively saw it as an opportunity to ascend to power and influence, ignoring the impending pain and suffering that it entailed. Who does not want to sit beside a powerful figure or a celebrity, or at least grab a quick selfie with them? Which mother does not want her kids to succeed in life?
But Christian discipleship follows not the logic of our world. Not power and influence, but selfless service and dedication lead the way to God’s reign. James had to bitterly learn to leave worldly ambitions behind and drink the cup of sacrifice as Jesus did. His zeal for Jesus resulted in his being the first of the 12 apostles to be persecuted and martyred, executed with the sword on order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea, in the year 44 A.D.
Christian discipleship, as St. James’ life has shown us, demands everything from us, but through it we will gain the light of grace that embraces us with divine power and love beyond measure.
From the Bible Diary 2020