Tag Archives: St James the Greater (Santiago)

Saint James the Apostle

St James the ApostleWe honor Saint James, the Apostle. Scripture reveals that James was the first Apostle to be martyred according to the book of Acts of the Apostles. This James carries with him the title of “the Greater,”  who is not to be confused with James the Lesser (May 3) or with the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community.

The Church prays,

Almighty everliving God, who consecrated the first fruits of your apostles by the blood of Saint James: Grant, we pray, that your Church may be strengthened by his confession of faith and constantly sustained by his protection.

Some things to remember about Saint James from Scripture:

“My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” (Jesus to James and John, Mt. 20:23)

Jesus questioned their ambition, saying, “Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”

At the time of James’ death, we learn that Peter was imprisoned, and then miraculously freed. Why did James die and not Peter?

The Gospel shows us the face of  James and his brother wanting a privileged place with Jesus in his Kingdom. James  got his wish of being first in the Church: he gave his life for the salvation of others.

Saint James, the apostle that teaches us a lesson about selfishness

St James and pilgrim shell

Today we liturgically remember a witness of the Lord, Saint James the Greater, Apostle.

Sadly, we also must pray for the 77 people killed, and countless others injured, in a train accident on the 24th in Compostela; some headed home, many going for the annual feast.

James was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration and one of those who slept through most of the Agony in the Garden. He was the first of the apostles to be martyred. The Tradition of the Church says that the relics of Saint James were brought to Spain sometime after his martyrdom. The shrine at Compostela is one the greatest pilgrimage center in western Europe. One of the symbols of Saint James is the scallop-shell, is also the emblem of pilgrims generally.

As Dom Alban Hood said in his homily today at his Abbey in England:

It’s easy for us to criticize James and John and their mother, as if none of us at some time or another have not been guilty of having made selfish requests of God! Yet the lives of these people give us hope that as our relationship with God matures, human selfishness might be replaced by service. For his part, St. James did indeed achieve that greatness he desired. But he did so only through service- by drinking the chalice of Jesus, and giving his life for him.

Today’s feast is an opportunity for us to ask ourselves: Are we selfish, or are we servants? St Paul reminded us a moment ago that the treasure of God’s power within us belongs to him, not us and is carried through this life in earthenware vessels. We may yearn for status and a sense of importance, even an entry in Who’s Who but Jesus and the scriptures remind us that God’s way is radically different from human standards and values.

James truly was a Son of Thunder and had learnt bravely that to be on the right hand or the left hand of Jesus in glory, was to experience something of the pain and ignominy of Calvary.

Saint James, pray for Spain, and pray for each of us!

Saint James the the Greater

St James the Greater woodcut.jpgSaint James, the son of Zebedee, and brother of Saint
John the Apostle, was a Galilean. He was one of the first to be called to the
Apostolate, together with his brother, and, leaving his father and his nets, he
followed the Lord. Jesus called them both Boanerges, that is to say, sons of
thunder. He was one of the three Apostles whom our Savior loved the most, and
whom He chose as witnesses of His Transfiguration, and of the miracle by which
He raised to life the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, and whom he
wished to be present when He retired to the Mount of Olives to pray to His
Father, before being taken captive by the Jews.

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Saint James the Greater (Santiago)

Santiago de Compostella con el Rey.jpgAlmighty Father, by the martyrdom of Saint James You blessed the work of the early Church. May his profession of faith give us courage and his prayers bring us strength.

This year is being dedicated to Saint James the Greater (known as the Jacobean Holy Year or Año Santo Jacobeo). The holy year dedicated to Saint James is observed when his feast falls on a Sunday, as it does today. The ceremonial opening of the Holy Year begins as it does in Rome with the opening of the Holy Door; if you read Spanish you’ll find the January ceremonial described here.

Read King Juan Carlos’ 2010 message –the Offering– during his visit to the Shrine of Saint James (Santiago de Compostella).

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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