St. James the Greater

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. James the apostle, also called James the Greater. James and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee, were very ambitious. They wanted Christ to give them places of honor in his kingdom.
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In this regard, Thomas Aquinas asks an interesting question: Is it a sin to be ambitious? (Summa 129-131) He begins by saying that it is fine to desire honors, if these honors are for having become virtuous, after all, it takes sacrifice to be virtuous. But, he says, a person should not focus so much on the honors he would receive, but rather on doing virtuous things. And it is more important that a person does great things for the glory of God, not so much for his own glory or fame.
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Also, if another person receives honors for achieving great things, rather than envy, we should rejoice for them. A great person has no use for flattery, he works hard for God’s glory, and cares little for the praises of others. He associates with important people as well as the unimportant, the rich as well as the poor, without distinction.
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St. Thomas says that it is wrong if a person seeks honors without referring them to God, and he is especially blameworthy if he seeks honors for achievements he has not really accomplished. Now St. James and his brother were blameworthy in seeking honors for that which they had not yet accomplished. Our Lord says that honors in the Christian life are good, but true honor comes through the cross, not in empty shows of importance.
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St. James however, would earn true honor – he DID meet the cross, and gave his life as a martyr for Christ. In fact, he was the first apostle martyred – we read in Acts of the Apostles, chapter 12: ‘About that time King Herod laid hands on some who belonged to the church. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.’
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So then, let us be true Christians, and seek virtue, not so much for the honors or acclaim that they bring, but for the glory of God.
St. James is the patron saint of Spain, of pharmacists, knights, workers, soldiers, and veterinarians.

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