19th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST — Tone 2. Holy Apostle James (Jacob), the Brother of the Lord (ca. 63).
Tone 2 Troparion (Resurrection)
When You descended to death, O Life Immortal, You slew hell with the splendor of Your Godhead. And when from the depths You raised the dead, all the powers of heaven cried out:// “O Giver of life, Christ our God, glory to You!”
Tone 4 Troparion (St. Nicholas)
The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of meekness and a teacher of self-control; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you.// O Father Bishop Nicholas, pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved.
Tone 4 Troparion (St. James)
As the Lord’s disciple you received the Gospel, O righteous James; as a martyr you have unfailing courage; as God’s brother, you have boldness; as a hierarch, you have the power to intercede.// Pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved.
Tone 2 Kontakion (Resurrection)
Hell became afraid, O almighty Savior, seeing the miracle of Your Resurrection from the tomb! The dead arose! Creation, with Adam, beheld this and rejoiced with You,// and the world, my Savior, praises You forever.
Tone 3 Kontakion (St. Nicholas)
You proved yourself to be be a holy priest, O Nicholas. You served God in Myra and lived the gospel of Christ. You offered your life for your people, And rescued the innocent from death. Therefore God has glorified you as a trustworthy guide of things divine.
Tone 4 Kontakion (St. James)
When God the Word, the Only-begotten of the Father, came to live among us in these last days, He declared you, venerable James, to be the first shepherd and teacher of Jerusalem and a faithful steward of the spiritual Mysteries.// Therefore, we all honor you, O Apostle.
Tone 6 Kontakion (Steadfast Protectress)
Steadfast Protectress of Christians, Constant Advocate before the Creator; Do not despise the cries of us sinners, but in your goodness come speedily to help us who call on you in faith. Hasten to hear our petition and to intercede for us, O Theotokos, for you always protect those who honor you!
Tone 2 Prokeimenon (Resurrection)
The Lord is my strength and my song; / He has become my salvation. (Ps. 117:14)
V. The Lord has chastened me sorely, but He has not given me over to death. (Ps. 117:18)
Tone 8 Prokeimenon (St. James)
Their proclamation has gone out into all the earth, / and their words to the ends of the universe! (Ps. 18:4)
2 Corinthians 11:31-12:9 (Epistle)
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands. It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows – how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Galatians 1:11-19 (Epistle, Saint)
But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. May the Lord hear you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! (Ps. 19:1)
V. Save the King, O Lord, and hear us on the day we call! (Ps. 19:9)
V. The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; and Your truth in the congregation of the saints. (Ps. 88:5)
Luke 16:19-31 (Gospel)
There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”
Matthew 13:54-58 (Gospel, Saint)
When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Apostle James, the Brother of our Lord, First Bishop of Jerusalem
Saint James was the son of Joseph the Betrothed from his (first) marriage. He was blessed by God while he was still in his mother’s womb and was so righteous in his life that all the Jews called him the “Just”. Even from a very early age, James lived a very ascetic life. He did not partake of wine or other strong drinks. In imitation of Saint John the Baptist, he never ate anything that had had the breath of life within it. He never shaved his head, as the Law ordains for those who devote themselves to God (Num. 6, 5). He never washed his hair nor was he anointed with oil, since he cared more for the state of his soul than of his body.
After the Lord’s Ascension, the Apostles unanimously elected James the Just as first bishop of Jerusalem. Perfect in all the virtues of action and contemplation, James alone entered the Holy of Holies of the New Testament- not once a year, like the High Priest of the Jews- but on a daily basis, in order to celebrate the holy sacraments. Dressed in a linen garment, he would enter the Temple and kneel for hours, praying for the people and the salvation of the world, to such an extent that his knees became hard as stone. He presided over the Apostolic Synod which discussed the question of whether Gentiles who adopted the Christian faith should be circumcised. He suggested that they should not be burdened with the ordinances of the old Law, but should be told to refrain from fornication and the consumption of food sacrificed to idols (Acts 15, 20).
In about the year 62, Judea was in turmoil and anarchy after the death of the governor, Festus. The Jews, who had been foiled in their efforts to have Paul put to death (Acts 25, 26), turned their attentions to James, whose fame as a just man had people believing in his teaching. Many people, ordinary and prominent citizens, had embraced the faith and the scribes and Pharisees were afraid that soon everyone would recognize the Messiah in the person of Christ. So they presented themselves to the Bishop of Jerusalem and entreated him to speak to the crowds at the temple. To make himself heard, he went up onto a roof, and preached that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God. The scribes and Pharisees were enraged and hurled him from the roof. Despite the fall, he was not killed, and, like Christ before him, prayed for his enemies, until he was stoned and a bystander hit him on the head with a large piece of wood and despatched him. He may have been buried at the site, near the Temple. Such was his standing among the people that even the most skeptical Jews considered the manner in which he was put to death to be the cause of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70. The above account is an abridgment of the information provided in the synaxarion. There are a number of points of interest .
The first is the obvious similarity with John the Baptist. Both were dedicated to God from an early age and may have been Nazirites. They were popular among the people for their virtuous lives and personalities. Both were outspoken in the face of official pressure and both were killed because they represented a threat to the establishment. Another similarity is with Saint Paul. It is interesting that both James and Paul, who were both steeped in Jewish tradition and law, to the extent that we might expect them to have been dyed-in-the-wool hard-liners, should have been the so “lenient” towards Gentile converts (Acts 15, 20).