Sts. James and Christopher, patrons of pilgrims and travelers

stjamesToday we celebrate the feast day of St. James the Greater, one of the “sons of thunder.” He was hardcore, zealous to the nth….remember when he wanted Jesus to cast fire on the Samaritan town for their lack of faith? But in today’s Gospel, this son of thunder needs his momma to intervene and advocate for him.  In any event, he was an imperfect man turned apostle turned saint, and praise God for that. A great tradition of pilgrimage surrounds him; thousands and thousands each year make a pilgrimage to the beautiful church built atop his remains in NW Spain, in Compastella. We will be united with them at this Mass. (In fact, EP 1 mentions James by name, so we’ll use that.) He is patron of pilgrims. We celebrate today St. Christopher as well, patron of travelers. You remember his story, how he was trudging through a terrible storm and almost gave up. And then he remembered that he had a child on his shoulders who depended upon him. He knew he couldn’t give up. When he had brought the child to safety, he appeared to Christopher as Christ (Christopher means Christ-bearer), and said to him, “You carried the whole world when you carried me.” I bet James felt he had been carrying the whole world, too: he suffered a great deal. He was the first of the apostles to be martyred, and they all were martyred except Jame’s brother, John.  In any event, as we celebrate James and Christopher today, the patrons of pilgrims and travelers, we remember that to be a disciple is to be on our feet, and that like James and Christopher, we are travelers and pilgrims–and travelers and pilgrims who need God’s help in the midst of life’s journey.  Let’s end with our first reading:

We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed