FEAST OF ST. JAMES APOSTLE & MARTYR
2 Corinthians 4:7-15, Psalm 126:1-6, Matthew 20:20-28
2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Verse 8 "Trials of every sort come to us but we are not discouraged." My Beloved, discouragement is the work of the devil this is why the saints are always cheerful.
As a child of God, as a member of Your Body the Church, as Your disciple and follower I carry within me the Holy Spirit who deigns to live in me because You sent Him. I have access to the infinite love and power of God concealed in this mortal, ageing, prone to sin body so it is perfectly clear that any good I do is made possible because the grace of God poured into my soul through the Spirit of God is alive and working in me. Of my own I can do nothing but with Your Spirit living, moving and having total control of me I can do all things through Him who is at work in me.
The lives of the Apostles, the great saints and martyrs are a living witness of how to live nobly and die joyfully with Your Name on their lips. St. Paul captures the essence of this wonderful and awe inspiring courage of the saints in times of persecution. God is always in control and always at work in the life of the saint.
If I am Your disciple then my whole existence must be one of laying down my life for my brother and my sister in order that I may live and experience the joy of knowing You. A martyr goes to his or her death singing Your praises joyfully for they know they have lived for You and dying for You they will be raised by You to live eternally in Your Presence
Truly my Beloved, everything works for our for our good as verse 15 reminds us for through all the circumstances of our live grace is granted to us in order that through them we may glorify God in all things. The more we allow ourselves to be crushed for Your sake the stronger will our witness be among those who do not believe.
My Beloved, this is the hymn of triumph that all Your people will sing when they come back home after their brief exile in this valley of tears. Life here is a struggle and those who are faithful are marked for persecution, suffering and even martyrdom. We are looked at with suspicion, as foreigners and and as aliens. We are driven out, hounded, scorned and filthy accusations are levelled against us. Lies are spread about us because of a complete and total ignorance of the truth and a colossal indifference to get acquainted with it so one can understand and make a fair judgement.
But this is the way it has always been my Beloved, this is why You came into the world - the Son of God is a living witness and those who follow You know what to expect from the enemy. Our final destiny is the entrance to eternal life with You through death as we take up our Cross daily and follow You.
The key to entering the Kingdom of God is to imitate the Son of Man in everything.
My Beloved, Peter, James and John were part of the inner circle - closer to You than the others. They were privileged to go with You and witness marvels that the others did not. In these verses we see how the mother of James and John makes a plea on behalf of her sons. She comes to You, kneels before You and makes her request known to You but Your response is directed to her sons.
All mothers have a special place in Your heart and all are heard. Sometimes they may ask foolishly but they receive a hearing all the same. If like James and John we are prepared to drink the cup of suffering we ought not to do so in exchange for special privileges, we do so out of love for You.
In this world there will always be struggles for places of power and leadership even among the people of God. These You rebuke reminding them that we are not to be like the rulers of the world who tyrannise the poor and use their power for personal gain. Rather You give us a model for true discipleship - Yourself. The rules that apply to those who belong to the Kingdom of God are in direct opposition to the world. Here the first are last and the last are first. A leader serves as a servant in imitation of You who came not the be serve but to serve and to lay down Your life to redeem the world.