Daily Reflection
July 25th, 2003
Brigid Quinn Laquer
Preventive Medicine
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Feast of Saint James, apostle 
2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
Matthew 20:20-28

“We hold this treasure in earthen vessels.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
“Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” Psalm 126:4
“Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 20:27

Today is the feast of St. James who is thought to be the first of the apostles to be martyred and is the only one who has his death recorded in the New Testament (Acts 12: 1-2).  Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us he is the brother of John, the Evangelist and that they were the sons of a fisherman by the name of  Zebedee.  James is part of a threesome that seems to have a special closeness with Jesus.  He and Peter and John witness the Transfiguration and are present in the Garden of Gethsemane the night of Jesus’ arrest. 
The readings today reflect a martyr’s life (the Greek word martus means witness.)  Paul tells us we are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down.  This is the human condition.  This is everyone’s lot.  Our present existence is pretty mundane and does not appear glorious.  We are but earthen vessels, human and fragile, clay pots that will turn to dust again some day.  Paul also says that there is a difference for Christians. Since we manifest the life of Jesus we should not feel constrained, or be driven to despair, we should never feel abandoned, or destroyed.  Our daily deaths (sufferings) result in resurrections through the grace of God.  As Teresa the Little Flower would say; the ordinary becomes extraordinary when done for God’s glory.

The story of James and John‘s mother asking that they be given elite positions show that their special place in Jesus’ heart was apparent to others.  So much so that it fosters jealousy among the apostles.  Jesus did not pick selfish, worthless disciples.  But their human weakness again points up the fact that holiness is a gift of God, not a human creation; it is given to ordinary men and women with weaknesses; it is God who gradually transforms the weaknesses into the image of Christ, the courageous, trusting and loving one.

Jesus uses this episode as a teaching moment for all of us.  The place of honor requires acceptance of what to the world appear as weaknesses; suffering, self-sacrifice, and service to others.  In other places in the gospels Jesus outlines what loving service might look like: without limits: Jesus gives his very life for his friends; in humility and service: the washing of the feet; anticipating needs of others: the encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well; without distinction of persons: the scribes, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, Nicodemus; treating others as friends: “I no longer call you slaves…but I call you friends”; with a passion for unity - his prayer at the Last Supper.

James and the other disciples witness to this love, this self-sacrifice in service to others is our mission too.  It may not translate into physical death, but rather a dying to ourselves, to our selfish tendencies, to our pride and arrogance, to our self-sufficiency.  By opening ourselves to the transforming grace of the Holy Spirit we rise to a new life and become true witnesses to God’s love and forgiveness.  This is truly extraordinary!

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response to the writer of this reflection.
Let Your Friends Know About This Reflection By Sending Them An E-mail

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook