Feast of St. James, Apostle
Matthew 20: 20-28
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”
But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes 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 a ransom for many.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Inadequate but Fully Ready to Serve
I have yet to meet a newly ordained priest who has said, “I think I’ve got this Christian life all figured out. Let me at ’em.” One is braced with a sense of inadequacy in living out the Christian call to holiness. “I am not wise enough; not old enough; not skilled enough; not persuasive enough,” we say to ourselves, doubting our capacity to serve Christ’s mission. And yet in yesterday’s gospel, we are invited to be disciples – even brothers and sisters – whom Jesus called to labor with him.
Clearly St. James the Apostle was a man of many gifts. Jesus saw great talent in him as he invited James and his brother to “come follow me.” It is easy (and perhaps desirable) to hold St. James and other saints on a pedestal — and at a respectable distance. “That’s not me, Lord. I am too young. Too old. Too weak. Too sinful. Too caught up with myself. Not as gifted as others. I’ve got a family to raise; studies to do; work to attend to; bills to pay.” The list of ‘no’ can go on, and our admiration of the saints becomes like our awareness of today’s celebrities – vague, and ultimately insignificant to our day-to-day living. And yet isn’t the invitation of the first reading from Jeremiah precisely to find God’s missioning in whatever state of life we are in — right now, today?
A dear friend of mine, Ronny, describes the saints as those people who show us how to be most fully human. Lord, I desire to find your call to sainthood in the concrete realities of my work and interactions, joys and sufferings. Quiet my needless anxieties and doubts, Lord, and remind me of your call to be a saint – to be more fully human, in amy own time and place.
—Mr. Joseph Simmons, S.J.
Lord, if I only focus on my abilities and my opportunities, I can become self-centered. If I dwell on my shortcomings and the brick walls that stand in my way, I can feel defeated. Lord, help me to remember that each talent is your gift to me. And each challenge an occasion to lean on your mercy and to trust in your everlasting faithfulness.
When my motivation aligns with serving you, and I give thanks for the talents you have given me, I can accomplish so much more and wield a power rooted in your Spirit. This day I am united to you – body, mind, and soul, and I believe that I will be your instrument to bring a bit more hope, joy, love, and even fun into those lives that cross my pathway.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Please share the Good Word with your friends!