Saint James the Lesser


Saint James the Less, Ἰάκωβος ὁ μικρόςIakōbos ho mikros, was the son of Alphaeus of Cleophas and was one of the twelve Apostles chosen by Christ. Saint James was the author of one of the earliest Catholic Epistles. Saint Paul wrote that he was a witness of the Resurrection and a "pillar" of the church.


In his epistle, Saint James targets the Jewish Christian audience and frames his letter with an overall theme of patient perseverance during trial and tribulations. His epistle is an exhortation of practical Christian living. He also tackles salvation:


14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead


It also contains the chief biblical text for the Anointing of the Sick:


14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.


According to tradition, Saint James was the first Bishop of Jerusalem and was martyred for the Faith in the spring of the year 62. The Christians of Jerusalem held him in high esteem and titled him "James the Just". Today his feast day is celebrated on May 3rd alongside Saint Philip.

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