James,the brother of John, was one of Jesus’ three favourite disciples, along with Peter. And, among the Twelve, he was the first to suffer martyrdom in the year 44.
We do not know much about James, except that he had a hot temper. Jesus nicknamed him and his brother John “sons of thunder”Mk 3:17). We also know that he was the quiet sort of man who rarely talks but whose feelings run deep. Although named 23 times in the New Testament, he is never presented as saying a single word by himself. However, the only two times that John speaks in his name, they ask for the wrong things (strike a Samaritan village with lightning, sit at Jesus’ side in the Kingdom) and Jesus corrects them both times. James was no doubt a blundering and foolish friend, but just the same he was a true friend, and Jesus loved him for that.
In a sense James is the patron saint of all those of us who make a lot of foolish mistakes but whose heart is in the right place. We can all be goofers, and we can still be among Jesus’ friends.
His feast day is Thursday 25th July.