Feast of Saint James, Apostle

“Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28.)

In commenting on this verse from today’s Gospel, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“He says, “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” It is as if he were saying, “I willed not even to stop at death but even in death gave my life as a ransom. For whom? For enemies. For you. If you are abused, my life is given for you. It is for you. Me for you.”

So you need not be too picky if you suffer the loss of your honor. No matter how much it is lowered, you will not be descending as far as your Lord descended. And yet the deep descent of one has become the ascent of all. His glory shines forth from these very depths. For before he was made man, he was known among the angels only. But after he was made man and was crucified, so far from lessening that glory, he acquired further glory besides, even that from his personal knowledge of the world.

So fear not then, as though your honor were put down. Rather, be ready to abase yourself. For in this way your glory is exalted even more, and in this way it becomes greater. This is the door of the kingdom. Let us not then go the opposite way. Let us not war against ourselves. For if we desire to appear great, we shall not be great but even the most dishonored of all.

Do you see how everywhere Jesus encourages them by turning things upside down? He gives them what they desire but in ways they did not expect. In the preceding passages we have shown this in many instances. He acted this way in the cases of the covetous and of the proud. So you can see why he asks whether we are giving our alms to be seen by others. To enjoy glory? Do not do this for glory, and you will enjoy it more. Why do you lay up treasures? To be rich? Try laying up no treasures, and then you will be rich. And in this case, why do you set your heart on sitting in the first place? That you may have the honor before others? Try choosing the last place; then you will enjoy the first. That is how things work in the kingdom. If it is your will to become great, then do not seek greatness and you will become great.” (The Gospel of Matthew: Homily, 65.)

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. Amen.

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