St James Alphaeus – Let us live and die in Christ

20151022_stjames_sqIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. We commemorate the Holy Apostle James, may the holy saint pray for us. Amen.

Holy Apostle James, one of the twelve, brother of the Holy Apostle Matthew, went with the Holy Apostle Matthew the First Called to preach in Judea, Edessa, Gaza, Eleutheropolis, and brought the light of the Gospel to many. At Ostrazin, a city of Egypt, St James finished his work and was martyred on the Cross.

When we hear of martyrs who died for Christ, we sometimes imagine that these martyrs are far removed from our lives. The word “martyr” stems from the Greek word for “witness”, which expands the dimension of what we understand as martyrdom.

Therefore, the multitude of martyrs since the times of old, the time of Christ and thereafter, right up to today, who died for the Holy Name of Christ and the Kingdom, have had been witnesses of Christ to their death.

But to be a martyr, or a Christian witness, is also living for Christ. Death may seem liberating to us, but God calls each of us to different journeys, that will fortify us towards Him.

In most of our Christian journeys, we are called to live in Christ, as living martyrs or witnesses, to evangelize through our deeds, and sometimes, through words, to enlighten those who would listen, to join us on the same struggling journeys towards Christ together.

We are to know that as witnesses for Christ, we are to sacrifice our own well-being for the sake of Christ and the people, and to always place ourselves in service to Christ and those who need Him, or our humble service (Nehemiah 5:14-18, Proverbs 3:27-32, 1 Corinthians 4:9-16).

To be a witness for Christ is not to pound Holy Scripture as a weapon against another, but to gently guide someone towards the Orthodoxy that holds the full grace and salvation of Christ and the Holy Church.

Lest we imagine many things and become deluded, we are reminded in Holy Scripture (St Luke 10:16-21) that we are to be humble, and to know that the evil one and his henchmen lurks at all corners, ready to pound on us as fearsome meat-eating lions on us who are mere sheep. Our humility in Christ, our repentance, our fervent and unceasing prayers, our love for others, will be our weapons against the evil one. In these we can find solace and protection under God’s appointed angels, the intercession of our Most Holy Theotokos, and all the saints before us.

Let us pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Nehemiah 5:14-18
Proverbs 3:27-32
St Luke 10:16-21
1 Corinthians 4:9-16