"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).