The Way of St. James, July 25, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Feast of St. James the Apostle
July 25, 2017
2 Cor 4:7-15, Ps 126, Mt 20:20-28

 

To listen to an audio homily of today’s homily, please click below:

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Every summer tens of thousands of people from around the world, from devout Catholics to agnostics trying to take a journey to find themselves, make the 478 mile Camino de Santiago in Spain to the tomb of St. James the Apostle whose feast we celebrate today. Today, we’re not in Spain, but we’re asked to make what I would call the true way of St. James, following his footsteps as he sought to follow the Lord’s, knowing that this sainted apostle is praying for us that we may indeed take that root.
  • The Way of St. James begins at the seashore of Galilee when the apostle left his boats, his fish, his parents to respond to Jesus’ call “follow me!” and he kept following Jesus not only in the occasions he shared with all of the apostles, but when Jesus called him, his brother John and Peter, apart from the rest to cure Peter’s mother in law, to raise the daughter of Jairus from the dead, to be transfigured among them, and to pray in the Garden that, if it be the Father’s will, the chalice of suffering God the Father was giving him might be taken away. For us to follow the way of St. James, we, too, must follow Jesus, leaving other things behind; to follow him to the sick; to follow him to the dead and mourning; to follow him on the happy moments; to follow him into the moments of great suffering.
  • To do that, we need to have our desires, our ambitions, our longings transformed just like St. James did. In today’s Gospel, after his mother asks whether James and John could have the choicest positions in Jesus’ messianic administration, Jesus asks, “Can you drink the chalice I am to drink?,” the chalice Jesus would reveal in Gethsemane he would rather have taken from him, the chalice of suffering foretold in Isaiah’s suffering servant song. They both responded with zeal, “We can,” and Jesus confirmed that they would, but they would be able to do so only through a humble acceptance of the power of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost, since we know both refused to drink it with Jesus on Holy Thursday night. That chalice is a death to ourselves so that Christ can rise, it’s a joining him in giving our life as a ransom for all, becoming with him a servant and slave of the rest, starting from serving those “among us” rather than neglecting them to serve neighbors elsewhere.
  • That path of self-sacrificial loving service is, of drinking Christ’s chalice, St. Paul tells us in today’s first reading, paradoxically the path to life. He says that we are “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body,” that “we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” All of our sufferings are an opportunity for us to die to ourselves so that Christ risen from the dead can become more manifested in our “earthen vessels.” That’s the chalice we must consume. It’s a bitter one of suffering at first but in the consumption and the living it is transformed into truly sweet and overflowing. This is part of the way of St. James, to drink that chalice, become true servants of the rest, and manifest the dying, rising and living of Jesus in our own life.
  • The way we learn with St. James to drink that chalice is every day at Mass, when we are given a chance to hear Christ saying, in a slightly different way each day, “follow me!,” and then, united to him, we are able to go out to give our life as a ransom to save others’ lives, serving them and becoming great with St. James. That’s the chalice of blessing we have, which is a participation in Christ’s blood (1 Cor 10:16). This is the sacrifice in which St. James participated on Holy Thursday and later would celebrate with the first Christians. This is the source and summit of the Camino on earth. May St. James intercede for us that we may follow his Camino all the way to Jesus’ eternal right side where he seeks to make our chalice forever overflow.

Today’s readings were: 

Reading 1

2 COR 4:7-15

Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke,
we too believe and therefore speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 126:1BC-2AB, 2CD-3, 4-5, 6

R. (5) Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

Gospel
MT 20:20-28

The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her,
“What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”