May 26, 2018 Length: 9:03
This week’s family meditation is part of a series focusing on the lives of the Holy Apostles. In this episode, we’ll get to know Saints James and Jude, brothers of our Lord.
Create an apostles notebook or apostles trading cards with these printables: https://tending-the-garden.com/holy-apostles-printable-pages/
Ms. Elissa Bjeletich: The apostles’ fast will begin soon, so it makes perfect sense that we spend some time getting to know the apostles.
Ms. Kristina Wenger: Today we begin a five-episode series that will help us learn about some of the holy apostles.
Ms. Bjeletich: When Jesus was walking on the earth and teaching people and performing miracles, he chose twelve disciples to follow him. They’re also called the twelve holy apostles. He would also choose more people, including a group of 70 apostles, but these twelve were really the closest to him. They walked with him and learned from him, and after he ascended into heaven, they would walk the earth, teaching the Gospel and building up the holy Church. They really are the beginning of the Church, and they include some of our first bishops. During this fast, we honor them, so this is a great time to learn about their lives. Who were they, and how can we learn from their examples?
Ms. Wenger: Today we’re going to learn about the lives of two holy apostles named James and Jude. They were the brothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ms. Bjeletich: Many times people get confused by the idea that Jesus had brothers, and the big question arises: Did the Theotokos have more children?
Ms. Wenger: She didn’t. She gave birth only to Jesus and remained ever-virgin throughout her whole life. When we talk about the brothers of Jesus, we are talking about children from Joseph’s first marriage. He was married to a woman named Salome, and they had a very long and happy life together and many children. When they had grown pretty old, Salome died, and Joseph was left a widower. When he was called to take care of the Virgin Mary, the holy Theotokos, he was much older than she was, but he protected her and watched out for her.
Ms. Bjeletich: That’s right, and we remember that after Jesus was born, the holy family—Joseph and Mary and Jesus—fled to Egypt to keep Jesus safe from Herod. Tradition tells us that when St. Joseph returned from Egypt, he began to divide up his possessions among his sons. He was making sure that everyone would get a fair inheritance when he died. He wanted to give one share to Jesus. His sons were against this idea, because Jesus was born from another mother. Only one of the sons, James, offered to share his portion with Jesus. He treated Jesus like a brother all along. James is now called the Brother of God, because he was always a good brother to Christ. The other brothers were not as generous to Jesus when he was young. Later, when both James and one of the other brothers, Jude, became holy apostles, it’s interesting to notice that Jude did not see himself as worthy of being called the Brother of God because he hadn’t really accepted Jesus as a brother so many years before. Instead, he would just say that he was the brother of James.
Now St. James really was a holy person, even from his early years. He was a Nazarene, a man especially dedicated to God. The Nazarenes took special vows, almost like monks. They were celibate and they did not drink wine or eat meat, and they never cut their hair. They wanted to live a life of holiness, totally dedicated to following God. James kept the vow of the Nazarenes, and he developed a soft heart that was close to God. When Jesus started teaching publicly about the kingdom of God, St. James became his apostle, and during this time his brother Jude also became to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he became his apostle as well.
Ms. Wenger: Like all of the apostles, they would follow Christ through his ministry on earth, and then, after Jesus ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit came down on Pentecost, they were given jobs: spreading the word of God and establishing the early Church. Like most of the apostles, St. Jude was sent out to travel. He preached in the Middle East, and he wrote the epistle of St. Jude, where he talks about the holy Trinity and the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and also about good and bad angels.
Ms. Bjeletich: St. James, on the other hand, became the first bishop of Jerusalem, and he stayed there in the city. He wrote the Divine Liturgy on which our Liturgy was based, by St. Basil the Great and then by St. John Chrysostom. He also wrote one of the books of the Bible. It’s the epistle of St. James in the New Testament. In his 30 years as bishop, St. James converted many people to Christianity, which began to really bother the Pharisees, so they plotted to kill St. James. They led the saint up on the very top of the Jerusalem Temple and asked what he thought of Jesus. The holy apostle began to bear witness that Christ is the Messiah, so they threw him off the roof. St. James was still alive when he landed on the ground, and he used his last breaths to pray for his enemies as they stoned him to death. This happened in 63 AD.
Ms. Wenger: About 17 years later, his brother, the holy Apostle Jude, died as a martyr near Mount Ararat in Armenia, where he was crucified and pierced by arrows. Most of the holy apostles would become martyrs. They were killed for telling others about Jesus Christ. They loved Christ so much that they were all willing to put their lives on the line to follow him and to build his Church.
Ms. Bjeletich: It is so inspiring to think about the holy apostles, how they followed Jesus and dedicated their lives to spreading the word about him. The Apostle James can inspire us to be holy from even when we’re children, and the Apostle Jude can inspire us to grow away from selfishness to following Christ completely.
Ms. Wenger: The apostles’ fast gives us an opportunity to ask ourselves what we can to do better follow their wonderful examples and what we are willing to do to spread the word of God. We’ll be back next week with another episode about the holy apostles.
Ms. Bjeletich: Here are some questions for you. Why were James and Jude called the Brothers of our Lord? Did Jesus have brothers?
Ms. Wenger: The Apostles James and Jude were called the Brothers of Christ because they were Joseph’s sons from his marriage to Salome. The Theotokos was under Joseph’s protection, but they did not have children together.
Ms. Bjeletich: How do we know that the Apostle James was a really holy man?
Ms. Wenger: He was a Nazarene, so he took special vows, almost like a monk. He was celibate, did not drink wine or eat meat, and he never cut his hair. This is how he developed a soft heart and was close to God.
Ms. Bjeletich: What did the Apostle Jude do to help the world know about Christ?
Ms. Wenger: He preached in the Middle East, and he wrote the epistle of St. Jude.
Ms. Bjeletich: Now here’s something you might want to discuss as a family. It’s interesting to think about the idea that our Lord had step-brothers and that his family had challenges. Today we have learned that not all of the step-brothers thought Christ should be treated exactly like them. Have you ever felt like you were being unfairly treated? Yet our Lord did not shut out his brothers because of the way they treated him. Instead, he extended the invitation to follow him, even to Jude who had not wanted Christ to get his fair share of Joseph’s inheritance. What can we learn from our Lord about how to respond to those who treat us in a way that we feel is unfair?