Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. James, one of the apostles and brother of St. John. Whenever I think of James, the first thing to comes to mind is his pushy mother, who we get a glimpse of in today’s Gospel. “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom,” she asks Jesus.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to react with some skepticism when, in response to Jesus’ question whether they can drink the chalice he is about to drink, both brothers respond in the affirmative. But James, in fact, was speaking truth in his response – he was the first of the apostles to be martyred – “killed by the sword” by Herod, according to Acts.
Whether he sits at Jesus’ right or left in the Kingdom, we don’t know: as Jesus responded to James’ mother, “to sit at [his] right and at [his] left…is for those for whom it has been prepared by [Jesus'] Father.” But we do know that when called by Jesus, James and his brother immediately left their father and the boat in which they were mending their nets and followed Jesus. And we know that James was one of the three privileged to be present both at the Transfiguration and at the agony in Gethsemane. He is also believed to have evangelized in Spain.
And so as we pray in the Opening Prayer for today’s Mass in honor of St. James, “May his profession of faith give us courage and his prayers bring us strength.”