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?
“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.