Today we celebrate the feast of St. James the Apostle. According to legend, his remains are held in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. In the Middle Ages, the saint became known as Santiago Matamoros: “St. James the Moor-slayer.” Under this title, he was deployed as the spiritual inspiration for the Christian re-conquest of Iberia and the subsequent expulsion of Jews and Muslims from the peninsula.

What this tells us is that the desire for domination that we read in today’s Gospel reading did not end in the first century. But in the Gospel, Jesus responds with love. In the end, he sees through the mother’s ambition to focus on courage and dignity that James will show.  James can and will drink his cup. Indeed, St. James is remembered as the first apostle to be martyred, killed by Herod in the year 44. He is undoubtedly a great patron for many of us, though perhaps not in all the ways we have wanted.

—Joe Lorenz, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Northeast Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.