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The Feast of St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr

The Feast of St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr

  • Acts 15:12–22a
  • James 1:1–12
  • Matthew 13:53–58

“A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household” (Matt. 13:58). James the Just was once offended at Jesus’ “wisdom and . . . mighty works” (Matt. 13:54). But he came to faith following His resurrection, when Jesus appeared to him (1 Cor. 15:7). He then became a leader of the Early Church in Jerusalem, present at the council recorded in Acts 15. There James recognized from the prophets that Jesus was the Lord “known from of old” and returned to rebuild David’s fallen tent and restore it, “that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name” (Acts 15:16–18). “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2–3). Josephus and other historians record that James was martyred by stoning in the 60s A.D. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

NOTES ON THE FEAST OF ST. JAMES . . . On October 23, the Church celebrates the Festival of St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr. St. James of Jerusalem (or James the Just) is referred to by St. Paul as “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19). Along with the other relatives of our Lord (except his mother), James did not believe in Jesus until after his resurrection (John 7:3-5; 1 Corinthians 15:7). After becoming a Christian, James was elevated to a position of leadership within the earliest Christian community. Especially following St. Peter’s departure from Jerusalem, James was recognized as the bishop of the Church in that holy city (Acts 12:17; 15:12ff.). According to the historian Josephus, James was martyred in AD 62 by being stoned to death by the Sadducees. James authored the Epistle in the New Testament that bears his name. In it, he exhorts his readers to remain steadfast in the one true faith, even in the face of suffering and temptation, and to live by faith the life that is in Christ Jesus. Such a faith, he makes clear, is a busy and active thing, which never ceases to do good, to confess the Gospel by words and actions, and to stake its life, both now and forever, in the cross.


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