October 9, 2015

Holy Apostle James, the Son of Alphaeus

St. James, Son of Alphaeus (Feast Day - October 9)


James was lifted up on the cross,
For it pleased You Savior to show him worthy.
On the ninth James was stretched out on the cross.

The holy Apostle James was the son of Alphaeus and brother of the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew,* who was formerly a publican. When our Lord Jesus Christ, abiding on earth in the flesh, chose simple and pious men for the dignity of the apostolate, to send them forth to preach the Gospel throughout the world, He also chose this James, and numbered him among the choir of the apostles as one worthy. James became one of the twelve apostles, an eyewitness and minister of Christ, the preacher of His mysteries and His follower.

Having received, with the other apostles, the Holy Spirit, who descended upon them in the likeness of tongues of fire, he went to many places among the gentiles, including Gaza and Eleutheropolis, to preach Christ and guide the erring to the path of salvation. Aflame with the fire of divine zeal, he burned up the thorns of ungodliness, smashed idols to pieces, destroyed their temples, healed diverse illnesses, drove evil spirits out of people, and brought a great multitude of people to Christ. Having sowed the seed of the word of God in people's hearts, he planted faith and piety, for which reason he was called the "Divine Seed".

Having gathered a harvest of people for salvation, he ended his earthly course as an emulator of the sufferings of Christ. While proclaiming the good news of salvation in the Egyptian town of Ostrakina, he was arrested and sentenced to crucifixion, and in this manner he surrendered his soul into the hands of God.

Portions of the holy relics of the Apostle James can be found in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles in Rome and the Monastery of Saint Panteleimon of Mount Athos.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
As a divine apostle, O glorious James, thou didst receive the fiery grace of the Spirit within thy soul. Thou didst shine forth in the world like a morning star, ending the polytheistic night of idolatry. And now do thou pray unceasingly in behalf of our souls.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Having proved thyself most wondrous in netting the nations, and showing thyself a most honorable companion of the apostles, O James, thou didst dispense the wealth of thy healings to the world and dost protect those who laud thee. Wherefore, with one voice we cry aloud to thee: Save us all by thine intercessions, O apostle.

O James, thou great apostle and seer of God, thou didst teach the nations and didst bring them to the Light. As thou art the Master's divine and blessed disciple, be thou mindful of us who honor thy holy memory.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Apostle James

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Sent by the Lord, and obedient to Him,
The all-glorious Apostle James labored,
Sowing the Gospel seed everywhere,
So that from it would arise men faithful to Christ.

Throughout Syria and Egypt
He diligently poured forth the heavenly honey,
The sweet, healing words of Christ,
And fed hungry men with this wondrous golden food.

Wherever James traveled, he left a wonder:
Spiritual vessels full and overflowing with honey,
Inexhaustible, life-creating honey:
Holy churches, full of pure, sweet richness.

In them the eternal Creator is endlessly praised,
As are the wondrous works of the Son of God.
Christ is that honey given to the faithful,
A life-creating manna of bread and wine.

James completed his journey with a mark of red-
His martyric blood, which poured down from the cross-
And he gained a wreath from Christ, in heaven,
As have the other of God's apostles.

* It should be noted that some, such as St. Jerome, say that James the son of Alphaeus is the same as James the Less (or Younger), who in the Gospels is said to have been the son of Mary and brother of Joses. And it is recorded that this James the Less was beaten to death with clubs by Jews in Jerusalem. The Synaxarion of Constantinople, however, distinguishes the two, and James the Less is otherwise considered an obscure figure that may perhaps be the Brother of the Lord.