"The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many + Saint Matthew 20: 20-28.”
This Gospel is proclaimed this day because it mentions James directly, or at least his mother, who asks if her two sons, James and John, can sit on his left and right when he comes into his kingdom [JTB: was her name Jackie?]. Jesus' answer is the question, "Can you drink of the chalice that I am going to drink?" They naively answered yes, but would eventually, by grace, actually do so.
James was a privileged witness of the Transfiguration and of Christ's agony in the garden, both of which taught him how the greatest must be the servant of all. To be a true disciple, one has to imitate the Teacher, which James does; he was the first of the apostles to be martyred, executed by Herod. In following the Lord, James too ransomed his life for the many, showing the glory of Christ's sacrifice.
"O Lord, for James, we praise you,
who fell to Herod's sword.
He drank the cup of suff'ring
and thus fulfilled your Word.
Lord, curb our vain impatience
for glory and for fame,
equip us for such suff'rings
as glorify your Name!"
UPPER TEXT: The Gospel of St. Matthew
PICTURE: Alonso Cano, 1635 AD
MIDDLE TEXT: Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago
LOWER TEXT: Horatio Nelson