Today is the feast of Saint James (the greater), who along with his younger brother John were apostles of the Lord. They answered the call of Jesus and left their nets and family and followed him. They were privileged to bear witness to most of the moments of grace that flowed from the hands of the Christ, including the transfiguration. A tradition says that he traveled to the region of Spain preaching the message of Christ before returning to Jerusalem. It was there that in 44 Herod order his beheading, thus giving him the distinction of being the first from among the twelve to give his life. According to legend his body was taken by his disciples by boat, drifting across the sea to Spain, where he was buried. His remains were later discovered and a great cathedral in Campostela was built in his honor and bearing his name (in Spanish) Saint Iago or Santiago. This place of honor became one of the greatest destinations of pilgrims from throughout Europe even to this day, with "The Way" describing the long journey that countless people have made throughout the centuries to pray at his relics. If you ever get the chance to see a movie made a few years back called "The Way" with Martin Sheen, please check it out. It describes such a journey and is an uplifting film.
In the gospel account today we hear both James and John assure Jesus that they could drink of the chalice that he would drink of. That chalice is one of suffering and death, of emptying themselves for the sake of the Gospel. In different ways, these brothers did just that, and are recognized as friends of Jesus and foundation stones of His church.