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Sts. Philip and James, Men of Faith and Action

Updated: May 13

by Joel V. Ocampo


On May 3, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles of the Lord. If we check the listing of the Twelve Apostles in the Gospels, we’ll see that Philip is always listed on the fifth position among the Twelve, while James, also called the Lesser is ninth (Mt. 10:2-4; Mk. 3:16-19; Lk. 6:14-16).



SAINT PHILIP

St. John recorded the call of St. Philip. It goes like his, “The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter” (Jn. 1:43-44). After his call, Philip called Nathanael (also know as Bartholomew) and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see” (Jn. 1:45-46).


After this scene, Phillip appeared again in the Gospel three times:

  1. during the feeding of the five thousand (Jn. 6:1-15), where Jesus tested him by asking this question, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” (though Jesus himself knew what he was going to do), Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little bit”;

  2. when the Greeks who had come up to worship at the feast wanted to see Jesus, they came to Philip, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus” (Jn. 12:20-22); and

  3. at the Last Supper where Philip said to the Lord, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (Jn. 14:8).


SAINT JAMES

Also known as “James the Less”, or “James the Younger” he was called “James, the son of Alphaeus” in the list of the Twelve Apostles (Mt. 10:2-4; Mk. 3:16-19; Lk. 6:14-16). He was called “the less” to distinguish him from St. James the Greater, the son of Zebedee. According to the Sacred Tradition of the Church, he was the son of Alpheus and Mary, a close relative of the Blessed Virgin (Mk. 6:3). According to St. Paul, James was a witness of the Resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:7). In addition, The Letter of James, one of the Catholic Epistles in the New Testament was attributed to him. In this letter, he identified himself as “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). With this title, he declared his authority for instructing the Christian communities.


THREE LESSONS FROM SAINTS PHILIP AND JAMES

  1. Bring Other People to Jesus

  2. Seek the Face of God

  3. Live Our Faith Through Actions


Bring Other People to Jesus

As mentioned above, it was St. Philip who brought Nathanael from Cana in Galilee to Jesus (Jn. 1:45-46). In addition, St. Philip, along with St. Andrew brought to Jesus the child with five barley loaves and two fish in the story of the Multiplication of the Loaves (John 5:1-15). Lastly, it was also St. Philip and St. Andrew who brought to Jesus, the Greeks who had come up to worship at the feast (Jn. 12:20-22).


Like St. Philip, let us bring other people to Jesus. We who experienced the love, mercy, forgiveness, and kindness of the Lord, ought to share these experiences to our relatives, friends, and our brothers and sisters in the Lord.


Seek the Face of God

During the Last Supper, 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’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves” (Jn. 14:8-11).


I would like to believe that St. Philip is sincere in his request to see the face of God. Even Moses requested God, “Please let me see your glory!” (Ex. 33:18). However, Jesus replied to St. Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father...I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” He also added, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn. 14:12). If I may rephrase, Jesus is like saying, “If the Father is in me, and I remain in you, then you will see the Father in everyone who loves me will keep my word.” Therefore, let us seek the face of God in our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Let us love and serve the Lord in our brethren.


Live Our Faith Through Actions

The Letter of James can be summarized into one statement: live our faith through actions. To do this, James enumerated the following:

  1. “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3);

  2. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves” (James 1:22);

  3. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain” (James 1:26);

  4. “Show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ” (James 2:1);

  5. “Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17);

  6. “Faith without works is useless” (James 2:20);

  7. “A person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24);

  8. “Just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:26);

  9. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8); and

  10. “One who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin” (James 4:17).


PARTICIPATE IN THE MISSION

Both Saints Philip and James died as martyrs for Christ. Philip preached the Faith in Greece and he was martyred at Hierapolis in Persia in the year 62. Like Saint Peter, he was crucified upside-down. James, according to tradition, was thrown down from the Temple by the scribes and Pharisees but miraculously survived; he was then stoned, and his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club.


As we continue our Easter celebration, let us ask the intercessions of Saints Philip and James, so that like them, we may become men and women of faith and action, and participate in the mission of bringing other people to God, so that they may also see the face of God, and experience His love, mercy, forgiveness, and kindness.


Let us pray…

O Glorious St. Philip, at the Last Supper you said to Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father and it will be enough for us.” Help us to make this our prayer also and to seek God in all things. Obtain for us the grace to know the Father and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, for in this does eternal life consist. Amen.


O Glorious St. James, you were our Lord’s cousin and at the same time his friend and follower. You wrote that every good and perfect gift comes to us from the Father of lights, and that faith without works is useless. You preached the divinity of Jesus until your death as a martyr. Obtain for us from the Father of lights the great gift of a living faith in Jesus’ divinity which will inspire us to unstinting labor in the service of God and our fellow human beings and enable us to reach our heavenly destiny. Amen.


Saints Philip and James, pray for us!

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