Monday, May 3, 2021
Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles
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? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” John 14:8–9
Today’s liturgical feast is in honor of two of the Apostles, Philip and James the Lesser. Little is known about James other than that he was chosen by our Lord for the apostolic ministry and that we have one of his letters, which is contained in the New Testament. James eventually went to Jerusalem and led the Church for a few decades until he was stoned to death as a martyr. Philip preached in Greece, Phrygia and Syria. He and Saint Bartholomew were thought to have been crucified upside down. Philip preached upside down from the cross until his death.
In the Gospel for today’s Mass, we are presented with an encounter that Philip had with Jesus. Though this encounter appears to be a rebuke of Philip by Jesus, it’s a rebuke that is quite heartfelt. Jesus says, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?” Jesus did, indeed, spend much time with His disciples. They stayed together, ate together, traveled together and spent much time talking with each other. Therefore, Jesus’ comments to Philip emanated from His real and lived personal relationship with Philip.
Take the first part of that statement to begin with. “Have I been with you so long…” Imagine Jesus saying this to you. Is this something He would be able to say to you? Is it true that you do spend much time with Him? Do you spend time reading the Gospels, speaking to Him from the depths of your heart, conversing with Him, praying to Him, and listening to His gentle voice?
But Jesus goes on: “…and you still do not know me…?” This is a humble truth that is important to admit. It is true that even those who have a very deep and transforming life of prayer do not know our Lord deeply enough. There is no limit to the transformation that can take place in our lives when we know Jesus personally.
Jesus’ statement goes on: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” So the next question is this: “Do you know the Father?” Do you know the Father’s love, His care for you, His perfect will? Though the Father and the Son are united as one God, They are still distinct Persons, and we must, therefore, work to establish a relationship of love with each one of them.
As initially mentioned, the comments from Jesus are a gentle rebuke of love to Philip, and He wants to speak this same gentle rebuke to you. But it’s a rebuke of love meant to encourage you to get to know Him better. It’s an invitation to personalize your relationship with Jesus and the Father in a real and concrete way. Do you know Him? Do you know the Son of God? Do you know the Father in Heaven?
Reflect, today, upon these loving questions of our Lord as if they were spoken to you. Let His words encourage you to get to know Him more deeply. Pray for your relationship to become more personal and transforming. And as you get to know our Lord more intimately, know that it is also the Father in Heaven Whom you are getting to know.
My divine and personal Lord, it is the deepest desire of Your Sacred Heart to know me and to love me. Fill my heart with this same desire so that I will not only know You, dear Lord, but also the Father in Heaven. Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your perfect love and pray that I may open myself to that love more fully each and every day. Saints Philip and James, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.
Further Reading – Saints Philip and James, Apostles
Featured image above: SS. Philip and James the Less By Paolo Veronese