Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
The apostle James (the son of Alphaeus),
who is also called "Less" or "Younger," was a brother of the apostle Matthew and the son of Mary. He was called
called "Less" because he was younger in age than James the Greater.
Many have become accustomed to calling all of the apostles simply "the
poor fishermen of Galilee. " But actually the group around Christ was
comprised of men not only of many very different temperaments and
personalities, but also of various professions. They came from different
social circles. Some were rich; some were poor.
With the calling of this
third group of apostles, tillers of the soil also were given a voice in
changing the whole world. James, Jude Thaddeus, and Simon were farmers.
James the Less is comparable to a late-rising star which begins to shine
only after the other stars fade beyond the horizon. In the Gospels, in
the first ten years of the history of the apostles, almost nothing was
heard of James. But after the martyrdom of James the Elder in the year
42, and after
Peter left Jerusalem, he suddenly came into the light of
history. Peter, in the exciting night of his miraculous escape from
prison, went to the
house of Mark and left the instruction, "Tell this
to James." This special emphasis on James already pointed to his
prominent position in the Mother Church at Jerusalem. St. Paul also
named him as a "pillar" of the Church.
firmly fixed in the ninth place on the list of apostles.
James was the first bishop of Jerusalem, a fact which is clearly evident
throughout the Acts of the Apostles. As bishop of Jerusalem, James the
Less had a sorrowful office to fulfill.
After the death
Festus, the governor of the province, there was no official
representative in the land. Then the fanatical high priest, Ananus II,
took advantage of this vacancy to destroy James.
He demanded from James that he
mount the pinnacle of the temple,during the Easter season and make it
clear to the people that Jesus was really not the Messiah. Seemingly
James consented. But when he reached the top of the temple, he preached
before all the people that Jesus was the Messiah, the Judge of the
world. The Jewish
leader, humiliated and enraged, immediately had James
thrown down from the roof of the temple, and had his half-dead body
stoned. James, as Stephen, prayed for his executioners. This was in the year 61 or 62, about
thirty years after the Ascension. James was
then ninety-six years old.
St. James the Less feast day is May 3.