≡ Menu

Learning from St. James

St. James the Apostle, “Boanerges” or “Son of Thunder”.  St. James the Impulsive, you might say.  St. James the Bold.  St. James the Fearless.  St. James the first Apostle Martyr.  All of these are of a piece if you consider the totality of the life of St. James.  They are also a lesson to the rest of us who desire to carry the title “Christian” in this life and into the next.

Let me start with the first, for it is a thought different than the rest.  Jesus nicknamed James and his brother John “Boanerges” or “Sons of Thunder” owing to how impetuous they were.  (See, those of you that don’t like nicknames, even Jesus had fun with his closest friends by giving nicknames.  Just sayin’.)  In one scene from the Gospels they ask to be seated at the right and left hand of Jesus when He comes into His Kingdom.  Traditionally we look at this story as  lesson on humility because instead of being promised these exalted seats they wind up promising to “drink of the cup” of Christ’s suffering.  True though that might be, I think there’s also another aspect to this.  In being bold enough to ask Jesus for exactly what it was they wanted without concern for how it might come across they (I’d guess inadvertently) opened themselves up enough to be given what it was they really needed, what was truly good for them.  That’s something I think many of us (okay, me being first in line) need to learn to do much more – ask God straight out for what we want and then let Him guide us to what we need.  Being coy with God never works, He knows us even better than we know ourselves.

Looking at the other titles which, admittedly, are my own invention, we’re also reminded of the St. James that went out into the world after Pentecost.  The St. James who trekked as far as Spain to bring the message of the Good News to a world so desperately in need of it.  We live in a world not unlike that of St. James; unlike in his time our world has heard the Gospel but passed it off unmoved.  Has the Word taken hold in our own hearts, in the upper room of our family and close friends?  We are impelled by the truth of the Truth to share this Gospel, hiding it at the peril of not only those from whom we keep it but our very own as well.  That doesn’t mean we have to walk from here to Spain and back, it just means we must not shy away from the opportunities God places before us.

That leads us to the last of the titles.  As a reward for his efforts to spread the Good News, King Herod sentenced him to beheading.  As we read in Matins this morning, “When the man who brought him to the tribunal saw how courageously he went to his martyrdom, he at once professed himself a Christian also.”  May we by the example of our lives convert others even in the hardest times and even at the last moments.  Let us once again look to the example of the saints and follow their example and become in the end saints ourselves.

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

Next post:

Previous post: