Feast of Saint James, Apostle

“Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” (Matthew 20:22)

In an ancient work known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew, an anonymous Ancient Christian Writer (ACW) offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel:

“The cup and baptism are not one. For the cup is suffering, but baptism is death itself. Moreover, baptism is said to closely resemble dyed wool. For just as wool, having a natural color, is dipped so that it be colored purple or some other color, so we also descend into death as corporeal beings and rise again as spiritual beings. As the apostle said, “We are sown in infirmity; we rise in strength; we are sown in baseness, we rise in glory; it is sown an animal body, it will rise a spiritual body.” Indeed, every death contains in itself suffering, but every suffering does not also contain in itself death. For there were many who suffered and were not killed; such are the confessors. They all indeed drank the cup of the Lord but were not baptized by his baptism.

They say, “We are able.” They say this not so much by the boldness of their own hearts as by the ignorance of the trial. For to the unknowing, war is a desirable thing, just as to the inexperienced, the trial of suffering and death seems to be a light thing. For if the Lord, when he had entered into the trial of his suffering, was saying, “Father, if it can be done, let this cup pass from me,” by how much more would the disciples not have said “we are able” if they had known what the trial of death was like? Great indeed is the grief that suffering holds, but death holds even greater fear.” (Incomplete Work on Matthew, «Homily 35»)

Almighty ever-living God,
Who consecrated the first fruits
of Your Apostles by the blood of
Saint James,
grant, we pray,
that Your Church may be strengthened
by his confession of faith and
constantly sustained by his protection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

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