St. James the Less

Friends in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Apostles Philip and James.
Now there were two apostles named James. The saint today is James the Less, or James the Just; he is also called in the scriptures ‘the brother of the Lord.’
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Some people ask: how can they call him the ‘brother of the Lord? And why are some of the disciples referred to as the ‘brethren’ or ‘brothers’ of Jesus? After all, Mary was always a Virgin, Jesus did not have brothers by blood.
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Well, we should remember that in that culture, cousins, relatives, and other close family members were often simply called ‘brothers.’ In fact, nephews were called brothers. For example, Abraham’s nephew Lot was simply called his brother, and even today in many cultures of the world, people will call cousins and nephews their ‘brother.’
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As an example, in the Philippines, a teenage girl would call her older brother “kuya”. She would also tend to call her cousins “kuya” and even her brothers friends ‘kuya.’ So the Jewish people did this also in Jesus’ day.
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But why is James, in particular, given a special title: ‘brother of the Lord’? Well, James was the 1st cousin of Jesus. His mother was the sister of Mary. Also, some ancient writers say that James, being a 1st cousin, looked quite a bit like Jesus. They looked so much alike, that when they went to arrest Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas had to go along to identify for them which to arrest; he was able to distinguish between them.
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James was called ‘James the Just’ because he led such a holy life. He became the first bishop of Jerusalem and his reputation for holiness was so great, that people always wanted to touch his clothes. James prayed so much it is said, that his knees were rough and calloused. Tradition says that after Our Lord’s Ascension, he was the first to offer Mass in Jerusalem.  
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At one point, a persecution erupted and when James refused to deny the Divinity of Christ, they threw him down from the temple and broke his legs. Then they bashed out his brains with a club. Before he died, he prayed for his enemies, just like Christ. It was the year 62AD.
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St. James is the patron saint of pharmacists, of those who are dying, and of hat-makers.

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