|Feast of Saint James, apostle
2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
“We hold this treasure in earthen vessels.” 2 Corinthians
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!
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