Glory Is in the Cross, Not in Power, Says Pope
Reflection on Apostle James the Greater
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Apostle James the
Greater teaches Christians of all times that glory is in the cross
of Christ and not in power, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope made that point in his address today at the general
audience as he recalled the figure of the brother of the Apostle
John. In the Gospel, the two brothers, through their mother, asked
Jesus for a place of preference in his Kingdom.
James was to become the first apostle to "drink the chalice of the
passion" through martyrdom in Jerusalem, in the early 40s of the
first century, the Holy Father noted.
The Pope continued with his series of meditations on the Church and
its origins, in which he is reviewing the figures of the apostles.
To date he had presented the figures of Peter and Andrew.
Some 30,000 people gathered for the audience in St. Peter's Square.
Noting the day's intense heat and sympathizing with the faithful,
the Pontiff shortened his talk. He concentrated on the two key
moments in Jesus' life that James witnessed with Peter and John: the
transfiguration on Mount Tabor and the agony in the Garden of
This latter experience "was surely for him [James] an opportunity to
mature in the faith, to correct the unilateral, triumphalist
interpretation of the first," explained Benedict XVI. "He had to
discern how the Messiah, awaited by the Jewish people as a victor,
was in reality not only surrounded by honor and glory, but also by
sufferings and weakness.
"The glory of Christ was realized precisely on the cross, in taking
part in our sufferings."
"This maturation of the faith was brought to completion by the Holy
Spirit at Pentecost," preparing James to accept martyrdom at the
hands of King Herod Agrippa, the Pope noted.
The Holy Father also recalled the numerous traditions in which
James' ministry is recounted as evangelizer of Spain, either before
his death or after, with the translation of his body to Compostela.
Benedict XVI ended his address by drawing lessons from James which
Christians can learn today, in particular, "promptness in accepting
the Lord's call, even when he asks us to leave the 'bark' of our
human securities." Christians can imitate the enthusiasm of
Zebedee's son in following Jesus "on the paths that he indicates to
us beyond our illusory presumption; readiness to give witness to him
with courage and, if necessary, with the supreme sacrifice of life."
"Thus, James the Greater is presented to us as an eloquent example
of generous adherence to Christ," seeing in his earthly life "a
symbol of the pilgrimage of Christian life, amid the persecutions of
the world and consolations of God," the Holy Father said. "Following
Jesus, we, like James, know that, even in difficulties, we are on
the right path."