On this feast of Saint James, fifty years ago, I celebrated my "first Mass" in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome. My parents and then sixteen year old brother were present, along with relatives and friends from the United States and Italy. In those pre-cellphone and pre-Skype days, I had not seen or even spoken with my family for almost three years.
Many of those who were present that day have, of course, gone before "marked with the sign of faith."
The first reading for today's Mass has only grown in meaning in the intervening years:
We have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us ... We too believe and so we speak, knowing that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will raise us also with Jesus and will bring us with you into his presence. Indeed, everything is for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people, it may increase thanksgiving to the glory of God (2 Cor 4:7,14&15).