Saint James the Greater was the son of Zebedee and Salome (Cf. Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1). Zahn asserts that Salome was the daughter of a priest. James is styled “the Greater” to distinguish him from the Apostle James “the Less”, who was probably shorter of stature. We know nothing of St. James’s early life. He was the brother of Saint John, the beloved disciple, and probably the elder of the two.
On the last journey to Jerusalem, their mother Salome came to the Lord and said to Him: “Say that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom” (Matthew 20:21). And the two brothers, still ignorant of the spiritual nature of the Messianic Kingdom, joined with their mother in this eager ambition (Mark 10:37). And on their assertion that they are willing to drink the chalice that He drinks of, and to be baptized with the baptism of His sufferings, Jesus assured them that they will share His sufferings (Mark 5:38-39).
James won the crown of martyrdom fourteen years after this prophecy, A.D. 44. Herod Agrippa I, son of Aristobulus and grandson of Herod the Great, reigned at that time as “king” over a wider dominion than that of his grandfather. His great object was to please the Jews in every way, and he showed great regard for the Mosaic Law and Jewish customs. In pursuance of this policy, on the occasion of the Passover of A.D. 44, he perpetrated cruelties upon the Church, whose rapid growth incensed the Jews. The zealous temper of James and his leading part in the Jewish Christian communities probably led Agrippa to choose him as the first victim. “He killed James, the brother of John, with the sword.” (Acts 12:1-2).
The name of Christopher, whose memory enhances the solemnity of the son of thunder, signifies one who bears Christ. Christopher puts us in mind that Christ truly dwells by faith in our hearts (Ephesians 3: 17). The graceful legend attached to his name is well known. As other men were at a later date, to sanctify themselves in Spain by constructing roads and bridges to facilitate the approach of pilgrims to the tomb of St. James, so Christopher in Lycia had vowed for the love of Christ to carry travelers on his strong shoulders across a dangerous torrent. Our Lord will say on the last day: ‘What you did to one of these My least brethren, you did it unto Me.’ One night, being awakened by the voice of a child asking to be carried across, Christopher hastened to perform his wonted task of charity, when suddenly, in the midst of the surging and apparently trembling waves, the giant, who had never stooped beneath the greatest weight, was bent down under his burden, now grown heavier than the world itself. ‘Be not astonished,’ said the mysterious child, ‘thou bearest Him Who bears the world.’ And He disappeared, blessing His carrier and leaving him full of heavenly strength. Christopher went on to be crowned with martyrdom under Decius. The aid our fathers knew how to obtain from him against storms, demons, plague, accidents of all kinds, has caused him to be ranked among the saints called helpers. In many places the fruits of the orchards were blessed on this day, under the common auspices of St. Christopher and St. James.
In many traditional parishes, vehicles are blessed on this day as well for St. Christopher medals and statues still populate traditional homes and cars. St. Christopher ferried so many of His “lesser ones” across the turbulent river to pray at the tomb of St. James the Greater at Santiago Compostela in Spain.
INTROIT Psalm 46: 2
To me Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable: their principality is exceedingly strengthened. (Ps. 138, 1-2.) Lord, Thou hast proved me, and known me; Thou hast known my sitting down, and my rising up. v. Glory be…etc
Be Thou, O Lord, the sanctifier, and the guardian of Thy people, so that, being defended by the protection of Thine apostle James, they may both please Thee by their conduct and serve Thee with mind all untroubled. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
Commemoration of St. Christopher
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we, who venerate the birthday of blessed Christopher, Thy martyr, may, through his intercession, be strengthened in the love of Thy name. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
EPISTLE I Corinthians 4: 9-15
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Brethren, I think that God hath set forth us apostles the last, as it were men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ: we are weak, but you are strong: you are honorable, but we without honor. Even unto this hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode, and we labor, working with our own hands. We are reviled, and we bless: we are persecuted, and we suffer it: we are blasphemed, and we entreat: we are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all even until now. I write not these things to confound you: but I admonish you as my dearest children: for if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus by the gospel I have begotten you.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 44: 17, 18
Thou shalt make them princes over all the earth: they shall remember Thy name, O Lord. V. Instead of thy fathers, sons are born to thee: therefore shall people praise thee. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (John 15: 16) I have chosen you out of the world, that you should go, and should bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 20: 20-23
At that time, the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, worshipping, and asking something of Him. Who said to her: “What wilt thou? She saith to Him: Say that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left, in Thy kingdom. And Jesus answering, said: “You know not what you ask, can you drink the chalice that I shall drink?” They say to Him:. We can. He saith to them: “My chalice indeed you shall drink; but to sit on My right or left hand is not Mine to give to you, but to them for whom it is prepared by My Father.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 18: 5
Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth; and their words unto the ends of the world.
May the holy sufferings of James, Thy blessed apostle, commend the offerings of Thy people, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and since they are not worthy for any merits of ours let them be made pleasing to Thee by his prayers. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
Commemoration of St. Christopher
Accept, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our offerings and prayers; both cleanse us by these Heavenly mysteries and graciously hear us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
PREFACE of the Apostles
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, to entreat Thee humbly, O Lord, that Thou woulds not desert Thy flock. O everlasting Shepherd; but through Thy blessed Apostles, wouldst keep it under Thy constant protection; that it may be governed by those same rulers, whom as vicars of Thy work, Thou didst set over it to be its pastors. And therefore with Angels and Archangesl, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of The glory, evermore saying:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matthew 19: 28
You that have followed me shall sit upon seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Assist us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, by the intercession of Thy blessed apostle James, for whose festivity we have joyfully partaken of Thy holy sacraments. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever.
Commemoration of St. Christopher
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our God, that we, who in this life joyfully assist in the commemoration of Thy saints, may hereafter rejoice in beholding them forever in Heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever.