This James is the brother of John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already called another pair of brothers from a similar occupation: Peter and Andrew. “He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:19-20).

James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus and the agony in Gethsemani.

Two incidents in the Gospels describe the temperament of this man and his brother. St. Matthew tells that their mother came (Mark says it was the brothers themselves) to ask that they have the seats of honor (one on the right, one on the left of Jesus) in the kingdom. “Jesus said in reply, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We can’” (Matthew 20:22). Jesus then told them they would indeed drink the cup and share his baptism of pain and death, but that sitting at his right hand or left was not his to give—it “is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23b). It remained to be seen how long it would take to realize the implications of their confident “We can!”

The other disciples became indignant at the ambition of James and John. Then Jesus taught them all the lesson of humble service: The purpose of authority is to serve. They are not to impose their will on others, or lord it over them. This is the position of Jesus himself. He was the servant of all; the service imposed on him was the supreme sacrifice of his own life.

On another occasion, James and John gave evidence that the nickname Jesus gave them—“sons of thunder”—was an apt one. The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to hated Jerusalem. “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them…” (Luke 9:54-55).

James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a).

This James, sometimes called James the Greater, 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.

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Comments

12 COMMENTS

  1. St. James the Greater pray for us! Dear Lord, I thank you SO MUCH that my younger girl has finally found a good job after many months of struggle! I thank you for all the many blessings of my life!

  2. Pray that my daughter receives employment soon. Guide and protect my family, friends and all I come in contact with. Thank you Lord. Amen

  3. Thank you Lord, for helping my husband with his depression. He is getting much better and I pray that he starts going to church with me. I lift up to you Lord, our marriage. Amen!

  4. Saint James, bless all courageous pilgrims who attempt The Way in northern Spain, Basque territory, Burgos, etc. culminating at the remarkable Santiago de Compostella. Buon Camino! Grant them their own Transfiguration experience. Safe travels and holy solitude amidst the kindness of strangers also seeking peace. Especially those whose plans have been postponed. 20km+/day is no small feat and takes considerable physical training to reach endurance potential, language practice, spiritual discernment. Let those that strive, attain. Amen.

  5. James,(A) a servant of God(B) and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

    To the twelve tribes(C) scattered(D) among the nations:

    Greetings.(E)

    Trials and Temptations
    2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,(F) 3 because you know that the testing of your faith(G) produces perseverance.(H) 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature(I) and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,(J) who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.(K) 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt,(L) because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded(M) and unstable(N) in all they do.

    9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.(O) 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.(P) 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat(Q) and withers(R) the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed.(S) In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

    12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial(T) because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life(U) that the Lord has promised to those who love him.(V)

    13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own(W) evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;(X) and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.(Y)

    16 Don’t be deceived,(Z) my dear brothers and sisters.(AA) 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above,(AB) coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,(AC) who does not change(AD) like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth(AE) through the word of truth,(AF) that we might be a kind of firstfruits(AG) of all he created.

    Listening and Doing
    19 My dear brothers and sisters,(AH) take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak(AI) and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger(AJ) does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of(AK) all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you,(AL) which can save you.

    22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.(AM) 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom,(AN) and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.(AO)

    26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues(AP) deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after(AQ) orphans and widows(AR) in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

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