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On the Road with St. James

On the Road with St. James

by Liz Goodyear-Jones

Santiago de Compostela is the capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia region. It is better known, however, as the final resting place of St. James. His remains are to be found here in the Cathedral de Santiago, at the end of one of the most famous pilgrimage routes in all Europe, the Camino de Santiago.

The Gospel passage assigned to his feast day, July 25, is Matthew 20: 20-28

Here it is: “The mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?’ She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”  

The passage continues when Jesus explains to her that such is not his right to do, but God’s. This led to the other disciples getting angry with the two brothers and Jesus again had to explain his and their ministry.

He tells them about rulers and how they lord it over everyone, and then says, “but listen that will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must become a servant.”

The whole story resonates with the struggle to understand power and servanthood, something we too struggle with today. When my daughter was in college, she walked the Camino from the Pyrenees to Santiago in just over three weeks, only to stress fractures in her foot just outside of the Cathedral at the end of her journey. A van carried her the rest of the way, and she still received her seashell, the official pin of completing the Camino.

I remember so well, being her mother and wanting it to be different. I also remember, the wisdom of the Spirit within, that inspired me to say, to an upset person, “You did complete the walk. This is just how you did it; broken foot, a van ride and upset.”

Once again, real power showed up, against the “prize” of doing it the right way. Instead, she finished in the spirit of Sant Yago, or St. James as we know him. Lesson learned; being great by being humble. I heard the message, too.


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