Why Do Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. James the Greater in July

Why Do Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. James the Greater in July

Why Do Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. James the Greater in July

St. James the Greater is remembered on his Feast Day – July 25 – for being the first of Jesus’ twelve apostles to be martyred. But more importantly, he was one of only three witnesses to the Transfiguration – an event that Thomas Aquinas describes as the holiest miracle in all of Christianity because it happened to Jesus himself.

In the words of Matthew:

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.” Matthew 17:1-3

James – the Son of Thunder

St. James along with his brother John, are called “sons of thunder” in the Gospel of Mark, in all probability, referring to their fiery enthusiasm for spreading the word of Jesus. Less spoken about than Saints Peter and John, St. James was, nevertheless, known to be steadfast to the cause when others wavered and committed to the end.

James – Witness to the Transfiguration

Of the Transfiguration, the Gospel of Matthew tells us:

”While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

“When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.” Matthew 17:5-8

Both theologians and historians believe that the most likely location where this extraordinary event took place is Mount Tabor – an ancient elevation in northern Israel, at the edge of the Plain of Esdraelon in lower Galilee. This hill is also mentioned in the 13th century BC inscriptions of the Pharaoh Rameses the Second. The Old Testament mentions Mount Tabor as the site of the Israeli peoples victory under Barak over the Canaanites, led by Sisera, sometime in the 11th century BC.

Mount Tabor rises above the surrounding plains and other hills as the highest landform for miles around. It bears an impressive hemispherical shape with low brush adorning it. It is not difficult to see why so many important historical events have been associated with this hill.

This picturesque landscape is, today, home to the monthly ‘Miracle Walk’, where pilgrims join together to climb up the hillock and experience the same climb that St. James and his fellow apostles would have made when they bore witness to the Transfiguration of Jesus.

How to Pray for a Miracle at Mount Tabor

You, too, can be a part of these divine experiences by offering prayers for miracles at this site. If, by any chance, you are unable to make this vaunted pilgrimage to the holy lands yourself, The Salvation Garden praying community offers volunteers to undertake the arduous trip on your behalf, and offer any prayers that you may want said. Talk to our facilitators for a holy land prayer request fulfillment today.

Why Do Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. James the Greater in July

Finding Pure Joy in Prayer

Finding Pure Joy in Prayer

Finding Pure Joy in Prayer

Many people complain that they have to struggle a lot to pray to the almighty. Several such people are frustrated as they realize prayer is necessary. However, they hardly show any interest to pray. These people are also clueless about what or how to pray.

A host of factors contribute to the preference for avoiding prayer. When we struggle in this manner, prayer can never give joy and inner satisfaction. Rather, it becomes a burdensome task. Praying to God should be a voluntary activity and not something you do out of coercion or force.

According to scripture, God, who created the universe and everything in it, gives an open invitation to people. He tells us through his prophet:Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3a)

1. Read the Word

Did you ever get engaged in a one-sided chat with a person who blabbered continuously without bothering to listen to you? There is a possibility that you did not like such a one-sided conversation. Many of us do the same thing while praying to God. We pray to him without reading the Bible. When we read what people who experienced Jesus and his tribulations have written, we become closer to God and our prayers get a fresh lease of life. God does speak to us through small acts of kindness from our fellowmen as well as through the daily breeze, rain on a scorching summer day, and other wondrous works of nature.

So, if you are serious about indulging in more joyful and effective communication with God, read Scripture. Chant a verse from the Gospels, which strikes you. It is a great way to find pure joy in prayer.

2. Keep your prayers simple

There is a strong belief that we have to use persuasive and passionate words so that God can hear our prayers. However, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Augustine have shown us that God listens to even short and simple prayers as long as they are heartfelt. Thus, we can find joy even in the simplest of our prayers.

Martin Luther King had once said that, “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.” God will not mind if we talk to him in everyday, simple language in the same way we talk with friends.

3. Prayers should be creative

Did you ever compose a prayer or a hymn of your own? If not, why not try today? Your prayer need not be needlessly wordy. Prayers you write, also need not be clothed in the words of the saints to bring back the spirit of joy you experienced when you had the first emotional realization that God could answer your prayers. You can give music to a couple of lines of a Psalm and feel the difference when you pray.

Prayers can become dull if these are treated as a mental exercise. God made humans creative. So, why should we not include creativity even while praying? There is a possibility that you did not find joy while praying as you felt it was complicated.

Prayers are joyous and creative when they are heartfelt. You can also send your prayer request in the holy lands and have a devout intercessor offer your prayers for you. Start writing your prayer today.

Finding Pure Joy in Prayer

What is the Meaning of Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Sheep?

What is the Meaning of Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Sheep?

What is the Meaning of Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Sheep?

It is not uncommon to be disdainful of those who consider themselves superior, as a class, than others in general, but you probably didn’t know that Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Sheep was the one of the first such acts of revolt against classism. Why do we say that, you may ask. Here’s why:

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.Luke 15:1-7

During Jesus’ time, the Pharisees were religious leaders by training and they were considered authorities on the law. In those days, laws was equated with morality and people who didn’t follow strict sets of teacher-given laws were looked upon with scorn and considered outcasts. By associating and “eating with sinners”, Jesus admonishes the Pharisees and teachers of the law with his parable of the lost sheep. Note that it wasn’t Jesus’ way to pick up arguments forcefully. Explaining his point of view through small tales and anecdotes was his way of gently pushing his ideas through.

The parable of the lost sheep explains, in terms that ordinary people of the time could understand, how the ‘good shepherd’ worries over the loss of a single sheep and rejoices when that single sheep is found. God, says Jesus, cares and is worried about each one of us. When we lose our way, God will not abandon us. He would keep reminding us, through the goodness of others around us, that there is a better way to lead our lives. For Christians, this goodness comes through volunteers and groups of the faithful who engage in daily prayer.

Nowadays, we would laugh at anyone who tells us that by associating with ‘wicked people’ we are being wicked ourselves. After years of class struggles and bloody revolutions overthrowing those who believed in privilege by birth, it is good to see our expressions validated by someone who lived two thousand years ago. And his fortitude is even more telling considering it led to his persecution and eventual death at the cross.

Today, Christians all over the world pay homage to the life and times of one, Jesus Christ, a carpenter by trade. The Salvation Garden praying community welcomes you to view the monuments of Jesus and his 12 apostles vicariously. We dedicate our lives to offering your prayers at five of the most beloved churches of the holy lands of Jerusalem, Jaffa, and others in the territories of Israel. Talk to us for special visits by our prayer volunteers today.

What is the Meaning of Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Sheep?