The Gospel reading for the Feast of St. James is Matthew 20:20-28.

After Christ describes His coming Passion which will include being mocked, scourged and crucified, rather than shocked and prayerful sorrow, immediately the mother of the “Sons of Thunder”, James and John, kneels before Christ and selfishly asks Christ to “Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your kingdom.” Instead of a harsh rebuke for her ill-timed demand to glorify her sons, Christ addresses James and John, probably because they have put their mother up to the request. Christ patiently confirms their ignorance and asks if they can “drink the chalice”; this is a mysterious reference to His Crucifixion. Christ confirms they will indeed “drink my chalice”, a reference to their own suffering (James is martyred and John is exiled), but defers to the Father’s Will as to how each will be rewarded.

The 10 other Apostles are indignant at James’ and John’s desire to be honored by Christ above them. Christ, aware of their anger, summons the Apostles and rebukes their desire for honor. Comparing their desires for glory to the lust for power of the Gentiles, Christ directs the disciples to instead model their behavior on Him and aspire to be a servant and slave for the salvation of others.

Following Christ’s Ascension, James spread the Gospel across Israel and in Spain. Returning to Jerusalem, James is the first Apostle to be martyred when he is beheaded by King Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1-2). After his death, the relics of St. James were taken to Spain where they continue to be venerated at the Cathedral in Santiago (from the Latin for “St. James”); thousands walk the the famous pilgrim’s Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) which ends at the tomb of St. James, a distance of some 500 miles. St. James is the Patron Saint of Pilgrims to the Holy Land.

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine Leader, Christ forms and leads the Apostles to witness His Passion and Resurrection in Jerusalem.  Divine Prophet, Christ accurately provide details of His own death and the suffering of the disciples. Divine King, Christ talks tough to His disciples, rebuking their indignation and foolish desire for honor and directing them to imitate His humility and service.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Despite forming the Apostles for three years and clearly describing His imminent betrayal, torture and murder, the Apostles selfishly vie for honor. Be amazed at Christ’s merciful patience.

2) The 10 Apostles’ anger at James and John is due to their envy of the honor the Sons of Thunder have requested. Review the 10th Commandment (CCC 2534-2557) and pray for Christ to help you eradicate envy of others.

3) In busyness and distractions of the world, men forget about the powerful champions Christ has given men in the Saints. Renew your understanding of the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and pray for Christ to help you to be strengthened by your patron Saint(s) (CCC 2165, 2156) and those Saints who can help you prevail over your life challenges.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – Saint Joseph

Virtue of the Day – Temperance

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the imprisoned

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To comfort the sorrowful