Saint James, apostle
(II Corinthians 4:7-15; Matthew 20:20-28)
As gruesome statistics testify, women are often abused by the men in their lives. Despite its affront to human dignity, domestic violence too often goes unreported and, consequently, unaddressed. Domestic violence comprises the proverbial “elephant in the room” of which everyone is aware, but no one wants to talk about. Sometimes, however, someone breaks the stifling silence to report the crime. That person acts prophetically like, it is easy to imagine, James the Apostle whose feast we are celebrating today.
The gospel pictures James as the son of Zebedee who, along with his brother John, boldly answers that he can drink from the chalice that Jesus is about to take. The Acts of the Apostles testifies that James did indeed suffer martyrdom. In fact, it appears that he was the first of the Twelve to do so. Perhaps he spoke up boldly again when Herod Agrippa’s henchmen started looking for Jesus’ followers. In any case he gave witness to the Lord with his life.
Probably more often than we want to admit we too should speak up in Christ’s name. When we see hints of domestic violence, for example, we should at least ask questions. Giving witness to Christ is more than dying at the hands of people who hate him. It includes raising our voices, as Jesus did, on behalf of the oppressed.