A Homily for the Feast of St. James the Apostle
25 July 2013
Holy Apostles Anglican Church, Pewaukee, WI
Mr. Zachary Braddock, Seminarian
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
St. James the Apostle, whom we commemorate today, is often referred to as St. James the Greater, to distinguish him from St. James the Less, who is the step-brother of our Lord. He, along with Peter and his own brother, James, formed an inner circle, of sorts. These three were the ones whom Jesus took up on the mount at the Transfiguration, the ones who he took with him to raise a young girl from the dead, the ones he conferred with at gethsemane before the Jews took him.
James was the first of the Apostles to suffer Martyrdom, being beheaded by Herod Agrippa, probably in 44 A.D. Christian legend holds that he traveled to Compostella, Spain before his Martyrdom, in order to preach the Gospel. There is a tradition which contradicts this legend, but it is clear, either way, from Scripture, that the Apostle was martyred for his faith. He followed in the footsteps of Stephen, the first martyr, and Jesus, his Lord.
As our society continues to change, and as the calls for martyrdom in the face of imminent destruction continue, it is important to remember that we are not necessarily called to die bodily as a witness for Christ. It is also important that if we are, and we truly may be called to this, that we allow ourselves to fade, and Christ to show forth through us.
And that, I think, is the true importance of martyrdom, and of being witnesses for Christ in this world. We have to live the truth, we have to live transformed lives, and that- living life in Christ- is what Jesus asks us.
When we come to judgement, and we all will, we will not be judged on wether or not we used the Anglican Missal or Prayer Book; whether or not we are Anglican or Episcopalian. We will be judged on wether or not we kept the faith.
That is what James the Apostle did- he kept the faith. In his life, and in his death, he should be an example to us all. In all things, we are to be Christians. St. Peter writes in his epistle this morning, that we are a royal priesthood and a holy nation. He writes that we are to offer up spiritual sacrifices.
This means putting aside our own will. This means choosing to follow Christ instead of our own desires. When tempted to sin, cling to the cross! When you’re tempted to ignore those in need, be the voice and hand and eyes of Christ! When you just don’t want to go to Sunday Mass, because it’s been a long week and you still have work to do… cling to the cross. Look up at Jesus….
White Martyrdom, as it is called, or suffering for the gospel even though one’s own life is not taken, may be the vocation of us all, particularly if our society continues to become averse to Christians. But it is our calling as Christians to suffer gladly for the Cross. Take comfort in Jesus. Take comfort in him who has already suffered for us and with us. As St. Peter says, “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.”
To God be the Glory, now and forever. Amen.