Are You Ready To Be A Martyr? (Homily for the feast of St. James)

On 25th July, we celebrated the Feast of St. James the Apostle. One of the most important points the Gospel of that day presents, is the question Our Blessed Lord asks of James and his brother, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” (Meaning – martyrdom!) It is a clear question (that He also asks each one of us). How would we respond?

stdas0086Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and kneeling down, asked a favour of him.

“What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in you kingdom.”

You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them , and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:20-28)

The first of the Apostles to be martyred was St. James the Greater. Fr. Maximilian (a priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate) related a question his mother asked him as he was preparing to enter religious life: “Are you ready to be a martyr?” While St. James won the crown of a red (i.e. bloody) martyrdom, all Christians are called to be martyrs, which means witnesses, and can take the form of the daily “white martyrdom”.

A primary way this martyrdom is lived is selfless service to those around us, especially those less fortunate than us, for in this way we draw close to Jesus Who came to serve and not to be served. Let us keep in heartfelt prayer our brothers in the Middle East as they face the red martyrdom as well.

Here is an audio sermon about this.

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2 Responses to Are You Ready To Be A Martyr? (Homily for the feast of St. James)

  1. GEOFF KIERNAN says:

    Kathleen :Like most I am aware for the verses you mentioned but thanks for the new insight you have given. They are timely words given the current climate. I feel there will be ample opportunities in the near future for us all to have to make the decision to be a martyr or otherwise. I pray my family and I have the courage to choose wisely…..
    On another topic, Kathleen I have undertaken the task of furthering devotion to the saying of the Angelus tri-daily. The hurdle I have found is finding a suitable sounding device for the Angelus Bells. There are Sounding bells devices for the larger ‘commercial’ market EG Monastery’s and Church’s etc, but I have struggled to find one that is suitable for home use. Could I ask if you or some of your readers are familiar with such a device could they let me know either through these pages or by other means. Thanks in anticipation.


  2. kathleen says:

    Dear Geoff, thank you very much. Yes, I wonder too what the future will hold for our beloved descendants, as the world grows increasingly hostile towards Christians. We ourselves may not live to see it, but by the time our children, grandchildren, etc. are old, who knows what terrible challenges they may be faced with. In the current climate of total disinterest on the part of many of our secular leaders in the West nowadays, martyrdom is creeping ever closer. Already (as we all know) with persecution and daily – even hourly – martyrdom of our Christian brethren in so many parts of the world continuing uncurtailed by those who could do something about it, the future looks grim. We must hold fast to the Faith and put our trust that God’s True Church will one day be victorious over the rampant evil in the world today.

    I was fascinated by your question of the “Sounding Bells device” – something I had never thought about before. (I’m ashamed to say that since my school days I have never done more than pray the midday Angelus!.) I found this on the web that I hope may be of some use to you:


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