Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Memory of the apostle James, son of Zebedee. He was the first of the Twelve to be martyred, and his body is venerated in Compostela.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 20, 20-28

Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low;

and he said to her, 'What is it you want?' She said to him, 'Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.'

Jesus answered, 'You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?' They replied, 'We can.'

He said to them, 'Very well; you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.'

When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers.

But Jesus called them to him and said, 'You know that among the gentiles the rulers lord it over them, and great men make their authority felt.

Among you this is not to happen. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant,

and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave,

just as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus had met James along the banks of the lake of Galilee and called him and his brother John to follow him. The path of James (called "the Greater" to distinguish him from the other James) as a disciple began with prompt obedience to Jesus’ invitation. Like the other disciples he did not always understand the Lord’s loving design for his life and he too, like the others, gave into the temptation to secure his own position and role. Discipleship requires, first of all, that we listen to our teacher and not seek out our own status. Unfortunately, it is very easy to fall into the temptation of thinking ourselves the masters of our fate. Sometimes it happens in insidious ways, such as when we look (as people innocently say) for self-realization. The disciple is not called to self-realization or to affirm his or her own ideas. The disciples, first of all, listens to the teacher in order to be similar to him and receive from him a mission. Discipleship requires attending to the Lord and a continual listening to the Word of God. In this sense, one does not become a disciple once and for all One must chose everyday to listen to the Word and decide to follow it. The story narrated in Matthew’s Gospel shows the difficulties we all find in following the Lord. The mother’s request that her two sons sit at the right side of Jesus was not naive. And the jealouse response of the others came immediately. With patience, Jesus corrects and continues to speak to all of them. And James, who perhaps did not fully understand Jesus’ response, continues to follow him and listen to him, even though Jesus corrects him when, out of zeal, he wants to send down fire from the skies and destroy the Samaritans who did not want to welcome Jesus. However, James will become a witness to the Gospel when he encounters the risen Jesus and receives the Holy Spirit. He will witness to the point of shedding his blood. According to tradition, James was the first apostle to be martyred. On that day, he drank the same cup as Jesus; his life had become like his teacher’s: a life spent for others. The Lord had asked him to do this. And obeying until the end, James fulfilled the mission Jesus had entrusted to him.