Scripture: 1st Reading: 2Cor4,7-15; Resp. Psalm: Ps126,1-6; Gosp. Accl.: Jn15,16; Gospel: Mt20,20-28
The everlasting treasure of life! The priceless riches of the kingdom. The eternal glories of the world to come. The mysteries of the new life of heaven. Where are these mysteries, treasures and riches kept?
We all know that people keep their treasures in bank vaults or other such secured places. They do this because of the danger of losing them if they keep them at home. God, on the other hand, keeps the priceless treasures of the kingdom, not in vaults, but in earthenware vessels. God keeps these treasures in weak human persons, to manifest the fact that the power belongs to Him.
When these treasures, according to the word of God in today's first reading, are kept in us, then the believer knows what great privilege he has robbers called as bearers of the mysteries of God. With this knowledge, no amount of sufferings, persecutions, will deter him. The believer then carries the death of Jesus in his mortal body, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested within him. The believer is thus able to bear anything for the sake of Him who has entrusted so great a treasure to him.
St. James saw this treasure and possessed it. He was one of the two sons of Zebedee and the brother of John, the beloved disciple. He was one of the first disciples called by our Lord to follower Him, a member of the inner caucus of our Lord's disciples, the others being Peter and John, one of the privileged disciples that were with our Lord at special moments of His life, for instance, at the transfiguration and when he prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane.
This was a disciple who probably at the beginning did not fully comprehend the content of Jesus' mission. His mother was the one co-opted in today's gospel reading to ask our Lord for positions of privilege in His forthcoming kingdom. Even when our Lord asked the brothers if they were able to drink the cup He would drink, they enthusiastically responded that they were able. At this point, they had not grasped the full meaning of service.
They had not understood the meaning of our Lord's mission. James would understand it and completely give his life in martyrdom. James would so understand the teaching of our Lord that day that till the end of his life, unassuming service to God and the neighbour became the hallmark of his life. He was the first apostle to be put to death around the year 42AD in Jerusalem (Acts12,1-3). He indeed drank the cup from which our Lord drank and in the city where our Lord paid the Supreme price.
We can therefore say that looking at the life of St. James, he was a man enraptured with the Lord. He was totally possessed by the Spirit of Jesus. He loved our Lord more than he loved his life. From that day that our Lord called him where he was fishing with his father and their servants and both he and his brother John left their father Zebedee and everything and followed Jesus, there was no going back again.
We are called daily to give up something for the sake of the kingdom. We are called to realize that the treasures of the kingdom are held within us, unworthy earthenware vessels. We are called to be grateful for our election. We are challenged to justify such an election by the way we live our lives. May St. James intercede for us.
Let us pray: "Almighty ever-living God, who consecrated the first fruits of your Apostles by the blood of Saint James, grant, we pray, that your Church may be strengthened by his confession of faith and constantly sustained by his protection." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.