Feast of St. James Bar-Zebedee, Apostle and Martyr (July 25)   11 comments

Above: St. James the Elder, by Rembradt

James, Son of Zebedee:  A Cousin of Jesus


The Assigned Readings for This Feast:

Jeremiah 45:1-5

Psalm 7:1-10

Acts 11:27-12:3

Matthew 20:20-28

The Collect:

O gracious God, we remember before you today your servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that you will pour out upon the leaders of your Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


This is the same saint known also James the Greater and James the Elder, and is separate from James, Son of Alpheus, a.k.a. James the Less or James the Lesser, and is distinct also from St. James of Jerusalem, martyred Bishop of Jerusalem and a son of Joseph and Mary.

St. James, Son of Zebedee, was the brother of St. John the Evangelist/Apostle/Divine, nephew of St. Mary of Nazareth, and cousin of Jesus and St. John the Baptist.  St. James and his brother, St. John, were part of the family fishing business, which did well enough for their father, Zebedee, to hire servants.  Putting all these facts together, I imagine family gatherings in which Mary and her sister, Mary Salome, and their husbands and children met each other over the years.  This might explain the deep emotional bond between Jesus and St. John the Evangelist.

St. James and St. John were apparently hot-headed, for Jesus called them “Sons of Thunder,” although a I recall hearing a now-deceased seminary professor say that “hellraisers” was a more accurate translation.  Their mother (Jesus’ aunt, Mary Salome) or they (depending on the canonical account one reads) asked Jesus that they would sit on either side of Jesus in glory.  Our Savior informed them (or her) that the route to these seats passed through suffering.

Both brothers suffered greatly.  St. John survived his sufferings, living into old age.  His brother, however, died circa 44 C.E., beheaded at the command of Herod Agrippa I.  (See Acts 12:1).  This was the first martyrdom of one of the Twelve.

St. James learned the meaning of taking up his cross and following Jesus.


JUNE 13, 2010


Posted June 13, 2010 by neatnik2009 in July 25, Saints of the Bible

Tagged with

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: