James was born at Bethsaida, the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the elder brother of the apostle John. Together with Simon Peter and his brother John, he belonged to the three privileged disciples of Jesus. He was a first-hand witness of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31), of the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37-43), of the Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:2-8), and of the Lord’s agony in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37). Significantly, his presence at the transfiguration and at the agony of Gethsemane was desired by the Lord Himself. It is believed, but not confirmed, that James preached the Gospel in Spain. As a matter of fact, Saint James is venerated especially at Compostella in Spain. The city of Santiago in Chile is so named in honor of Saint James (San Tiago).
Being beheaded under the instruction of King Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-3) in the year 43 or 44, James participated in the chalice of the Lord’a Passion and the first of the Twelve to shed his blood for the Gospel. From this we can conclude that James was very active in Jerusalem as a messenger of Christ.
An ancient tradition believes that the man who denounced Saint James to King Herod Agrippa I was converted by the apostle’s commitment and fearlessness in the face of suffering, and himself suffered martyrdom together with him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You accepted the sacrifice of Saint James, the first of Your apostles to give his life for Your sake. May Your Church find strength in his martyrdom and support in his constant prayer. We pray this in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 25 July 2020
A Christian Pilgrim