Feasts of the Apostles, Philip and James, May 3
1 Cor 15:1-8 / John 14:6-14
Jesus instructs his disciples; "I am the way, the truth, and the life. "
A young man was stationed on the island of Saipan during World War Il.He said a sight he would never forget was that of huge Flying Fortresses landing on the island's airstrip. They would be met at the end of the runway by a tiny, dusty jeep. A huge sign fastened to the jeep's rear bumper read, "Follow Me!" The tiny jeep then escorted the giant Fortress to its proper parking spot on the airstrip. The young man said that the jeep always reminded him of Jesus. Jesus was just a simple Galilean peasant, but the giants of history— even in our sophisticated modern age— continue to look to him for direction.
How closely do we follow Jesus today? To the lost, Jesus is the way. To the confused, Jesus is the truth. To the spiritually dead, Jesus is the life.
We honour today two apostles: Philip was one of the first disciples to be called by Jesus. James the lesser, brother of the apostle Jude, succeeded Peter as the head of the Church in Jerusalem and authored one of the epistles. Apostles are people who have to witness to others that the Lord is truly risen. They have to announce it all the world.
To them Jesus is also the way to God, the way to the Father. If they have seen Jesus, they have seen the Father and do know him. We too have the task of testifying to the risen Lord at least by our Christian living.
Today we celebrate the feast of two apostles, St. Philip and St. James. St. Philip was one of the first chosen disciples of Christ. He in turn shared his calling with Nathaniel, saying, “We have found Him of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth.” And when Nathaniel in wonder asked, “Can any good come out of Nazareth?” And St. Philip simply answered, “Come and see,” and brought him to Jesus.
St. James (the Lesser), traditional author of the Letter of James, was the son of Alphaeus. Saint Paul tells us that he was favoured by a special apparition of Christ after the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). As the Apostles went forth among the nations to preach the Good News, Saint James remained as Bishop of Jerusalem, where the Jews held him in high veneration for his purity, mortification, and prayer, that they named him the Just. He governed that church for 30 years before his martyrdom.
Yet, like the rest of the apostles, St. Philip and St. James also took a while to understand who Jesus was and who He really was. As we heard in the gospel, St. Philip asked Jesus to let them see the Father and they shall be satisfied. We could almost hear Jesus sighing as He commented that they still do not know Him.
As we also heard in the 1st reading, after His resurrection, Jesus seemed to have made a special appearance to St. James and then to the rest of the apostles.
It was after His resurrection that the apostles began to understand who Jesus really was and that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Just like how the St. Philip and St. James and the rest of the apostles were called and sent forth to preach the Good News, we too are called and sent.
Just like the apostles had to slowly come to an understanding of who Jesus is and that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, we too must come to that understanding of who Jesus is. The apostles were ordinary men who trusted and loved Jesus and led holy lives worthy of their calling. May we too love Jesus deeply, pray faithfully and live lives worthy of the Good News of Lord.
Lord our God, we praise and thank you on the feast of your apostles Philip and James. Through them many have come to know that Jesus is alive and risen. May we too be good witnesses to the risen Jesus by the way we live his risen life, even though we are flawed and weak, that people may find through us the way to the Father of Jesus our Lord. Amen.