- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

Homily: July 25, 2015

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO [1]

16th Saturday in Ordinary Time
Feast of Saint James, Apostle
2 Corinthians 4:7-15; Matthew 20:20-28

Today we are celebrating the feast of the apostle James, the brother of John and son of Zebedee the fisherman. They were rough-hewn guys—amazing, colorful characters. They could be very aggressive. And they also could be very insensitive. Perhaps this is why these two came to be known as the “Sons of Thunder”. According to today’s gospel reading, they also seemed to have had an inflated notion about their importance in Jesus’ mission.  These two young men had encountered an individual who captured their imaginations and nothing was going to keep them from following Him. He spoke a language that echoed in their souls and they wanted to make His dream theirs. Because they encountered Jesus of Nazareth, life had meaning and they wanted to live it to the full.

These two young men knew that “Jesus was the Man!”  There was nothing they desired more than to be with Him. Like Abraham before them, they were willing to leave their occupation, their family and their father (Cf. Gen. 12:1). As light was the beginning of the first creation, the Light of Christ was the beginning of the new creation. The light of faith was entrusted to these earthen vessels.  James and his brother John were young men with all the passions and flaws of youth. Perhaps some of us can remember when we acted like them, before we matured and life-experience made us cynical. With the idealism of youth gone, we may find ourselves being confronted by the Lord Who called us and them: “You have lost your first enthusiasm” (Cf. Rev. 2:4).

Like James and John we felt the fire of divine love burning within us (Cf. Lk. 24:32). But with the passing of time we have lost our enthusiasm for the Kingdom. We have become afraid that the earthen vessel might break and so we insulate and protect it. In the name of political correctness and inclusivity, we no longer preach the Truth in love. Because we have lost our first passion, we hide the Light of the Gospel under a bushel basket.   We no longer serve the Master in humility and self-abandonment. Kindness is not charity. Excusing indifference is not compassion. Without copping an attitude of youthful impetuousness, we need to recover our first zeal, tenderness and seriousness for the building up of the Kingdom. The trick is to maintain a servant’s heart no matter how remarkable our deeds may be. We can’t be humble until we become one with God by letting go of the ego and allowing God to work through us as we serve His people in our daily lives.

Following in the footsteps of Saint James, we need to take on life and follow Jesus with a passion. It is not a matter of being politically correct, but of doing the right thing in the name of Truth and Love. Jesus instructs His disciples to serve others, to discern their needs and attempt to meet them to the best of our ability. Having been grafted into Christ, let us kindle the fire of divine love. May we act in solidarity with others, and not worry about how we are perceived or appreciated while doing so.