The Son of Man came to not to be served but to serve

Feast of St James

Today we celebrate the life of St James and Fr Paul reads from Matthew’s Gospel (20: 20-28) in which James is referenced.

James is the brother of St John and like his brother, he too, was a fisherman. Fr Paul says that we know from the scriptures that James was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration of Jesus; and was also one of those who almost slept all the way through the agony in the garden.

James was one of the first apostles to be martyred. He was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I, to appease the Jewish opponents to Christianity. James was buried in Jerusalem but then nothing else much is known about him.

In the 9th Century, however, we learn of a tradition where the relics of St James were taken to Spain at some stage after his martyrdom. A shrine at Compostela in Galicia grew in importance and became one of the greatest pilgrimage sites in Western Europe. In every country there are churches of St James and known and well- trodden pilgrimage routes.

In recent years in Spain the idea of undertaking a pilgrimage has come back into favour. Fr Paul says, you may know people who have undertaken the pilgrimage along the Camino to the church and the shrine of St James.

The scallop shell emblem is the emblem of St James and it has become the emblem of pilgrims generally.  Fr Paul notes that a number of these scallop-like shells are used at St Agnes’ Catholic Parish for such things as baptisms etc.

Today in our prayer Fr Paul asks us to reflect on the life of St James, a person who started and worked as a fisherman but then became one of the followers of Jesus. In his humanness he did the best he could and ultimately gave his life in order to spread the word of Christianity. Today, we might ask ‘How can I be like James in my life right now?’