Today’s Gospel contains an interesting little story about our patron saint. His mother was very proud of her son James and his brother John. Jesus had invited them to be part of his ministry of teaching and healing. They had been especially selected at the Sea of Galilee, they were present at the raising of Jairus’s daughter and were witnesses to the revelation of Jesus’s glory at the Transfiguration. Clearly, they were part of an “inner circle.” So their mother asks that their position be recognized by their being given places of honour when Jesus establishes his kingdom.
Jesus sees this request as what we would now call “a teachable moment.” He explains to her (and James and John) that preparation for life in that kingdom is not about status and privilege, but service and sacrifice. It will also involve a measure of suffering. He asks them if they are prepared for that, by using the image of sharing the cup that he is about to drink.
Their response is clear. They say with confidence – “We are able.” They didn’t ask for time to consider their reply. There was no request for more detailed information about what would be involved. We don’t hear any prevarication or bargaining.
They said “We are able.” It was a firm commitment to tackle the job before them, trusting in God to give them the courage and strength that would be needed. As we celebrate his feast, let our patron inspire us to give the same positive reply. We may not know the end of our journey, the road may be rough and there may be difficulties and dangers. But we have an absolute assurance of God’s grace-filled companionship on every step of the journey.
Fr. Neil Gray
Download the service booklet for this Sunday: Liturgy at Home St. James Day Sun July 26 2020