Read: Jeremiah 45:1-5, Psalm 7:1-10, Acts 11:27-12:3, and Matthew 20:20-28
Little is known of St. James other than what we read in the New Testament. He was the brother of St. John the Evangelist (author of the Gospel and four epistles attributed to him). They were the sons of Zebedee, and along with Peter and Andrew were fishermen on the Lake of Galilee. They were possibly Jesus’ first cousins, as Salome their mother was sister to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because James is always mentioned first, he is probably the older of the two.
Some believe that James was a missionary to Spain before his death, but this is probably not true. James is the patron saint of Spain, and his relics are believed to lie in a church in Compostela.
James was so passionate about following Jesus that he gave his own life, martyred in ad44 by Herod. Legend has it that the man who accused James of being a Christian was so moved by James’ strong witness before Herod that he himself believed and the two were beheaded together. He never turned away, even when faced with death. Would you do the same? Would you accept death as a reward for following Jesus? Take a few moments to pray about this. You may find the following prayer helpful:
O gracious God, we remember before you today your servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that you will pour out upon the leaders of your Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.