James’ Letter’s Message

Our first reading at Holy Mass today comes from the letter of the Apostle James.

How many of the twelve Apostles had the name James? We talked about this in the fall.

St James the Less El GrecoOne of the St. Jameses had a brother among the Apostles, namely…John.

The other James wrote the letter in the New Testament. He served as the first bishop of a very important city, the capital of the Holy Land…Jerusalem!

In his letter to us, St. James teaches us to have faith and put it into practice.

We believe in a good God, a God Who will help us when we ask Him to, Who will help us see the difference between right and wrong, and Who will give us the strength to do good.

When temptation comes—when we grow impatient, or angry, or cowardly, or deceitful, of self-indulgent—the Lord will help us overcome our weakness and act in the way that reflects who we really are, namely His beloved children.

What we have to do is pray. Spend time every day praying. When we pray regularly, the Lord trains us to love the right things.

Lord, help us to serve You faithfully! We want to get to heaven and love you forever. Give us the wisdom and strength to make the right choices, and build the right habits, that will lead us to the ultimate goal.

Apostles Child-Like and Rabbinical

Two quick points on the two Holy Apostles, Ss. Philip and James.*

1. Maybe you remember how we spoke 2 ½ weeks ago about St. Thomas, about how child-like and straightforward he was in his conversations with Christ. St. Philip was equally as intimate with Jesus and also wore his heart on his sleeve.

When the Lord asked Philip about feeding 5,000 men and their families, the no-nonsense Apostle quickly calculated how much money it would cost. 200 denarii.

Then, at the Last Supper, Jesus told the Apostles that they now knew and could see the Father. Philip broke the solemn silence. “Show us!”

2. St. James, who was a kinsman of Christ, became the first Bishop of Jerusalem. Now, here’s a question: What was the difference between a rabbi in Jerusalem and the first Bishop of Jerusalem?

The people called Christ “rabbi.” Rabbis made other rabbis by gathering disciples to themselves and teaching them over a period of three years or so. All the rabbis in Jerusalem had become rabbis by studying under rabbis. St. James also was a rabbi who had studied under a rabbi.

See my point?

One thing Jerusalem rabbis did was to write letters to Jews in other parts of the Roman Empire. These letters encouraged diaspora Jews and helped them to stay faithful.

Now, obviously, the first Christian Bishop of Jerusalem would never write such a letter! Except that he did. It’s the twentieth book of the New Testament.

Rabbi-Bishop James’ letter to the Diaspora does not, however, urge the observance of the Law of Moses. It makes no mention of Temple sacrifices. Instead, St. James interprets and applies the Sermon on the Mount.

So…what do both these Holy Apostles teach us? What do all apostles teach us? This:

You want God? You want religion? Keep it simple. Look to Jesus Christ.

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*a.k.a. James “the Less,” to distinguish him from St. John’s brother James, who is called “the Greater.”