July 25, 2014
Friday in the 16th Week in the Ordinary Time A
2 Corinthians 4:7-15
The Feast of St James, the Apostle
James, son of Zebedee was one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus and traditionally considered the first apostle to be martyred. He was a son of Zebedee and Salome and brother of John the Apostle. He is also called James the Greater to distinguish him from James, son of Alpheus.
James is one of the first apostles to follow Jesus. James and John were with their father by the seashore mending their net when Jesus called them to follow. They left their father (family and partnership), boat (possession and wealth) and net (Self-programming and job). It was a radical following to be trained as “fishers of men” a higher call they received from Jesus.
Saint Peter, James and John were the only privileged ones to witness our Lord raising the daughter of Jairus, his Transfiguration, and finally his agony at Gethsemane.
Coming to today’s Gospel the evangelist highlights the incomprehension motif by describing the request of the two brothers – James and John.
Guided by ambition for power, position and authority they asked Jesus for places of honor in his glory. Jesus poses a challenging counter question to them, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink” (v. 22). The evangelist certainly understands the ‘cup’ as a metaphor for Jesus’ suffering and death. Similarly, the word “baptism’ is used as a symbol of the passion of the Lord (Cf. Luke 12: 50).
Both James and John will participate in their own time in the suffering of Jesus but Jesus clearly refuses their request for honor. It was a challenge to them realizes that the only way to glory is by sharing his suffering.
The other disciples expressed their resentment. Jesus took this occasion not to punish them but to correct them and to teach them the true greatness and authentic leadership.
Jesus says clearly, “There is no space for selfish ambition and rivalry in the community instead authority is for serving others and not to display power and dominion.”
For Jesus authority is exercised in humble service and the one who in authority must be a servant of all.
In Mark we read the reversal of human standards, with a beautiful caption, “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 45)
There is no life more satisfactory than a life of selfless service to the humanity which requires giving up one’s own selfish interests and has an unflinching courage to stand for one’s convictions.
Fr. Shepherd Thelappilly CMI