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Today is the feast of St. James, one of the original twelve companions called by Jesus. The “Saint of the Day” of franciscanmedia.com tells us that James was known to be less than a perfect image of what we might imagine a saint to be. One of the two brothers that wished to claim the seats on either side of Jesus in the kingdom of heaven, James and his brother, John, were often called “Sons of Thunder” by those who knew them. But personality is not what gets one a high place in the afterlife, it seems. What’s really important lies elsewhere.

The way the Gospels treat the apostles is a good reminder of what holiness is about. There is very little about their virtues as static possessions, entitling them to heavenly reward. Rather, the great emphasis is on the Kingdom, on God’s giving them the power to proclaim the Good News. As far as their personal lives are concerned, there is much about Jesus’ purifying them of narrowness, pettiness, fickleness.