The Holy Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of St. James. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Humility so he can reject pride and live a more humble life and by seeking the Virtue of Piety so he can regularly seek the powerful intercession of the Saints to help him grow in holiness and happiness. 

Liturgy

Feast of St. James – July 25 – Mt 20:20-28

Commentary

After Jesus describes His coming horrific Passion, the mother of the “Sons of Thunder”, James and John, kneels before Jesus, and then selfishly asks Jesus 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 sharp rebuke for her ill-timed and outrageous demand to glorify her sons, He ignores her, and instead, addresses James and John, perhaps because they have put their mother up to the foolish request. Jesus patiently confirms their ignorance, asking if they can, “drink the chalice”; this is a mysterious reference to His Crucifixion. Jesus confirms they will indeed, “drink My chalice”, a reference to their own suffering (James will be martyred; John will be persecuted and exiled), but Jesus defers to God the Father’s Will as to how each will be rewarded. 

The other ten Apostles are envious and indignant at James and John’s desire to be honored by Jesus above them. Jesus, aware of their anger, summons the Apostles and rebukes their desire for honor. Comparing their desires for glory to the lust for power the Gentiles crave, Jesus directs the Apostles to instead model their behavior on Him, and to fix their aspirations on being a slave for the salvation of others.  

Following Christ’s Ascension, James the Greater 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 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.  

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Despite forming the Apostles for three years and clearly describing His imminent betrayal, torture and murder, the Apostles selfishly vie for honor and power. Be amazed at the Divine Meekness (a part of Temperance) of Jesus which allows Him to respond with merciful Patience rather than righteous Wrath and how He uses the Apostles’ sinfulness to teach the necessity of imitating His Divine Humility (a part of Temperance) so they might enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Reject pride and strive to be humble

Realize: When St. James was full of pride and foolishly sought great honor, Jesus rebuked his pride and instructed him to instead find salvation by being a humble slave to others. 

Believe: Reflect upon the Virtue of Humility (CCC 299, 1450, 2219, 2540, 2546, 2554, 2559, 2631, 2713, 2753, 2779).

Pray: St. James, Great and Noble Apostle, pray that I build the Virtue of Humility (a part of Temperance) so I reject the desire for honor, attention, and praise, I recognize my sinfulness and smallness, and I only humbly seek to more consistently do Christ’s Will. 

Seek the intercession of the Saints

Realize: In the Communion of Saints, every Catholic man is blessed to be able to strive to imitate and seek the intercession of the Saints, the greatest human beings who have ever lived. 

Believe: Reflect upon the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and Patron Saints (CCC 2156, 2165).

Pray: St. James, pray that I grow in the Virtue of Piety (a part of Justice) so I honor the Saints and I develop a veneration for those Saints who can help in my own particular struggles in the Spiritual Combat.