Thursday, May 3, 2018
Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles, May 3
Philip said to [Jesus], “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?” John 14:8-9
We honor two of the Apostles today, Philip and James the Lesser. We know very little about James other than that he was chosen by our Lord for the apostolic ministry. We also have one of his letters which is contained in the New Testament. After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to James who eventually went to Jerusalem and led the Church for a few decades, eventually being stoned as a martyr.
Philip is known from some of his comments that appear to reveal a weakness of faith. In addition to the comment above, recall when Jesus was preparing to multiply the fish and loaves and asked Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” (John 6:5). Philip’s response was, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit]” (John 6:7). But Jesus was testing Philip and, unfortunately, he failed the test.
But Philip did not continue to fail in his faith. Recall, also, that Philip is the one who was inspired to baptize the Ethiopian eunuch in the Acts of the Apostles. Eventually, tradition states that Philip preached in Greece, Phrygia, and Syria. He and Saint Bartholomew were said to have been crucified upside down. Tradition holds that Philip preached upside down from the cross until his death.
In the end, James and Philip gave their lives for Christ, holding nothing back. But it took time for them to grow in faith and confidence in Jesus. This is a significant witness for our lives.
Ideally, our response to Jesus every day will be that of a complete submission to Him and perfect trust in His divine will. Ideally, we will not lack faith.
However, it’s most likely the case that all of us can look back at many moments in our lives and point to ways in which we have failed in our faith and trust in our Lord. Though this is sin, it’s good to look at these moments of weakness in the light of the mercy of God. Jesus saw the weakness of Philip, addressed it, but continued to love him and continued to call him down the path chosen for him. Jesus does the same with each one of us.
Reflect, today, upon any ways that you can identify with the doubts and weaknesses of the Apostle Philip. See those weaknesses for what they are: your sin. But allow yourself to grow in hope today as we honor Philip and James. The Lord never gave up on them and He will not give up on you. He continued to call them to a holy and sacred ministry, and He will continue to do the same for you.
Lord, I thank You for never giving up on me, even when I sin and turn away from You. Help me to persevere in my faith in You and to answer the call to radically follow You wherever You lead. Sts. James and Philip, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saints for the Day – Saints Philip and James