Saint James the Less (died 62 AD), the ninth of the twelve disciples of Jesus, and author of the Biblical epistle to the twelve “tribes scattered among the nations.” While some confusion remains regarding the identity of Saint James, Biblical scholars agree that his place among the twelve disciples—the first pillars of the Church—was due to his holiness. For this reason, he is sometimes referred to as “James the Just.” The official designation of James the Less (or Lesser) likely stems from his being called to ministry later in life than the other disciples, being of short stature, or from youth. It is a useful distinguishing title from James the Greater, son of Zebedee, another of the twelve. James is remembered for his deep faith—upon the death of Jesus, James stated that he would fast until the Lord returned. Following the resurrection, Jesus appeared personally to James, preparing a meal for him to eat.
"He was always a virgin, and was a Nazarite, or one consecrated to God. In consequence of which he was never shaved, never cut his hair, never drank any wine or other strong liquor; moreover, he never used any bath, or oil to anoint his limbs, and never ate of any living creature except when of precept, as the paschal lamb: he never wore sandals, never used any other clothes than one single linen garment. He prostrated so much in prayer, that the skin of his knees and forehead was hardened like to camels' hoofs." Working under the direction of Saint Peter, the first pope, Saint James the Lesser toiled tirelessly within the community of Jerusalem, addressing the laws of Moses, and converting thousands of Jews to Christianity.
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
"When he was ninety-six years old and had governed the Church for thirty years in a most holy manner, the Jews sought to stone him, then took him to the pinnacle of the temple and cast him off headlong. As he lay there half dead, with legs broken by the fall, he lifted his hands toward heaven and prayed to God for the salvation of his enemies, saying: Lord, forgive them for they know not what they do! While the apostle was still praying, a fuller struck his head a mortal blow."
In our weekly catechesis on the Church’s apostolic ministry, we now turn to the Apostle James the Less. In the Gospels, James is called the son of Alphaeus. He is often identified with another James, known as "James the younger" (cf. Mk 15:40), or "James, the brother of the Lord" (cf. Mt 13:55; Gal 1:19). The Gospels themselves do not relate anything about either James during our Lord’s earthly ministry. The Acts of the Apostles, however, present a "James" whom Saint Paul names with Peter as a "column" of the Church in Jerusalem (Gal 2:9). At the Council of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15), it was James who proposed that the Gentiles converted to Christ not be forced to follow all the precepts of the Mosaic Law. Together with Peter, he thus enabled Gentile Christians to maintain their identity, while respecting the perennially valid relationship between Christianity and its Jewish origins. James also gave his name to the New Testament Letter of James, which continues to speak to us today, stressing the need for a living faith expressed in good works (2:26), and serene abandonment to the will of God (4:15).
O Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us perfectly to know thy Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life; that, following the steps of thy holy Apostle, Saint James, we may steadfastly walk in the way that leadeth to eternal life; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Today’s Psalm: Psalm 9: Thanksgiving for the Overthrow of Hostile Nations
7 The LORD reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
8 He will judge the world in righteousness;
he will govern the peoples with justice.
9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
11 Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
proclaim among the nations what he has done. (Psalm 9: 7-11)
Day 123 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Courage and faith in the Lord; For all those persecuted for their faith.
Requested Intentions: For restoration of a marriage (K); For financial security and housing for a son (B); For a friend undergoing a medical procedure (L); A father’s birthday (J); Restoration and healing of marriage, family, and financial situation (M); For the repose of the soul of M (J); Financial security and employment (A); For financial security (M); Health and recovery of Cardinal Sean Brady (R); Healing from a chronic illness (J); Deepening of faith and true conversion for a family (J); Successful employment (H); Restoration of a marriage (J).
Psalm: Psalm 9: Thanksgiving for the Overthrow of Hostile Nations
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."