St. James, Apostle

Reading 2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Gospel Matthew 20:20-28

“…so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

Today we celebrate the feast of the apostle James. But two of the apostles were named James. The apostle whose feast we celebrate today is usually called “James the Greater”. This James was the brother of St. John the Apostle.

Saint James the Greater was “greater” than the other James because he followed Jesus for a longer time. But even though this “Great James” followed Jesus for so long a time, he still didn’t exactly understand who Jesus was. We can tell that from today’s Gospel passage.

James and John, the apostle-brothers, have a mom who wants what’s best for them. She knows that Jesus is a great person, very important, and even believes that Jesus is some sort of king. That’s why she asks Jesus if her sons can sit right next to Jesus’ throne. She wants her sons to be important.

But Jesus says something that none of them expects. Jesus says that if you want to be with Jesus in Heaven, you have to drink from the chalice that Jesus was going to drink from during Holy Week. When Jesus says this, He’s not just talking about the chalice that He’s going to use at the Last Supper. Jesus is also talking about the cup of suffering: He’s talking about the Cross. Remember that after the Last Supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, and prayed to God the Father about the cup of suffering that He knew was coming very soon.

You will actually grow stronger in your life whenever you suffer for Jesus’ sake. Jesus taught us this in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” [Matthew 5:11]. Always remember that this is one of the ways that God will give you grace throughout your life: by sticking with Jesus, even when it’s very difficult to do so.