Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Can You Drink the Cup of Which I Am to Drink?

St. James the Greater, Apostle (July 25)

When James and John and their mother petitioned Jesus for the best spot in the Kingdom, they weren't entirely off-base. After all, it was James and John that Jesus took, together with Simon Peter, to see Him transfigured in glory. Later, it was the same trio that saw Him weep in garden the night of his betrayal. That the three had special, privileged access to the our Lord's heart is unquestionable. Our Lord's response must have left them questioning though. They were probably envisioning a banquet chalice when He responded, "You will drink my cup," (Mt 20:23). How confusing when His next breath confessed that it wasn't for Him to hand out positions in His Kingdom.

That's because the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of service, and its King, first and foremost, "came to serve and not to be served," (Mt 20:28). The service He came to give, the love over which there is no greater love (Jn 15:13), was "to give his life as a ransom for many," (Mt 20:28). That self-sacrifice was His cup, and if we are to witness to Christ and His Kingdom, that must be ours as well. That is what James, John, and their mother did not get - not yet. But they would.

Herod, vexed by the preaching of the first Bishop of Jerusalem, had the bishop's head cut off with a sword (Acts 12:1-2); thus St. James the Greater became the first of the Lord's Apostles to drink of his Master's cup. Even before then, at least as early as the martyrdom of Deacon St. Stephen (Acts 7:59), St. James had to see the writing on the wall: stand for Christ and oppose the powers of this world, and you will pay a price. The beautiful first reading at Mass for the Feast of St. James the Greater comes from St. Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians. In the reading he writes that we are "always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our weakness," (2 Cor 4:10). St. Paul writes that "we are persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed," (2 Cor 4:9). "The one who raised Jesus will raise us also with Jesus," (2 Cor 4:14) he asserts. St. James probably never read St. Paul's letters to the Corinthians, but he was certainly knew the message that is at their heart. In his letter St. James writes, "Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him," (Jas 1:12). Let us who are earthen vessels by our prayerful and self-sacrificing witness reveal God's surpassing power (2 Cor 4:7).

St. James the Greater, pray for us!

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