Tuesday, July 25, 2006

July 25: St. James the Apostle

Today we remember the life and witness of Saint James the Apostle. He was the first of apostles to be be martyred, and you can read the story in Acts 11.27-12.3, the second lesson to be read in churches and privately. The Greek New Testament text says that he was "executed with a sword," and most commentators infer that he was beheaded. As the brother of John (and one of the sons of Zebedee), this James is one of five mentioned in the Scriptures. In Matthew's Gospel, we read that his mother once asked Jesus to give her sons, James and John, privileged places in Jesus' kingdom. Jesus tells her that she doesn't know what she's asking for. And shortly after when he asks them point blank if they can "drink the cup that [he is] going to drink," they both respond with a big yes. I suspect they too had no idea at the time what that yes meant. James, we see today, does indeed drink the cup of Jesus. He has his throat slit by the governmental authorities (Herod) because he's a member of the church, a growing group of people who dare to embrace the counter-cultural politics of Jesus. The point of the story is something like this: life in the kingdom of Jesus can be dangerous.

With Christians around the world, you may wish to remember Saint James today with this prayer:

O gracioius God, we remember before you your servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that you wil pour out upon the leaders of your Church that spirit of self-denying service by which along they may have true authority among your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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