Saints Philip and James the Lesser
(Martyrs, Feast Day 3 May)

crucifix_philip.jpg (193141 bytes)
The crucifixion of Saint Philip - by Filippino LIPPI,  - from Strozzi Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

 

John 14:6-14

Have I been with you so long and yet you do not know Me? Jesus told Thomas: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you really knew Me, you would know My Father also. From this point on you know Him; you have seen Him." "Lord," Philip said to Him, "show us the Father and that will be enough for us." "Philip," Jesus replied, "after I have been with you all this time, you still do not know Me? 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 I speak are not spoken of Myself; it is the Father Who lives in Me accomplishing His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, or else, believe because of the works I do. I solemnly assure you, the man who has faith in Me will do the works I do, and greater far than these. Why? Because I go to the Father, and whatever you ask in My name I will do, so as to glorify the Father in the Son. Anything you ask Me in My name I will do."

 

Saints Philip and James the Lesser

Saint Philip

crucifixion3.jpg (1600 bytes)Like the brothers, Peter and Andrew, Philip was a native of Bethsaida. He also was among those surrounding the Baptist when the latter first pointed out Jesus as the Lamb-of-God. On the day after Peter's call, when about to set out for Galilee, Jesus met Philip and called him to the Apostolate with the words, "Follow me". Philip obeyed the call, and a little later brought Nathaniel as a new disciple. On the occasion of the selection and sending out of the twelve, Philip is included among the Apostles proper. His name stands in the fifth place in the three lists after the two pairs of brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John. The Fourth Gospel records three episodes concerning Philip which occurred during the epoch of the public teaching of the Savior:

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)Before the miraculous feeding of the multitude, Christ turns towards Philip with the question: "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat"? to which the Apostle answers: "Two hundred penny-worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little".

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)When some heathens in Jerusalem came to Philip and expressed their desire to see Jesus, Philip reported the fact to Andrew and then both brought the news to the Savior.

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)When Philip, after Christ had spoken to His Apostles of knowing and seeing the Father, said to Him: "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us", he received the answer: "He that seeth Me, seeth the Father also".

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)Lastly, Philip is listed among the Apostles awaiting the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room.

These four episodes furnish a consistent character sketch of Philip as a naive, somewhat shy, sober-minded man. No additional characteristics are given in the Gospels or the Acts, although he is mentioned in the latter work as belonging to the Apostolic College.

According to tradition, Philip preached in Greece and was crucified at Hierapolis under Emperor Domitian.

 

Saint James the Lesser

james_less.jpg (32483 bytes)Saint James the Less, the author of the first Catholic Epistle, was the son of Alphaeus of Cleophas. His mother Mary was either a sister or a close relative of the Blessed Virgin, and for that reason, according to Jewish custom, he was sometimes called the brother of the Lord. The Apostle held a distinguished position in the early Christian community of Jerusalem. Saint Paul tells us he was a witness of the Resurrection of Christ; he is also a "pillar" of the Church, whom Saint Paul consulted about the Gospel.

According to tradition, he was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and was at the Council of Jerusalem about the year 50 A.D. The historians Eusebius and Hegesippus relayed that Saint James was martyred for the Faith by the Jews in the Spring of the year 62 A.D., although the Jews greatly esteemed his person and had given him the surname of "James the Just".

Tradition has always recognized him as the author of the Epistle that bears his name. Internal evidence based on the language, style, and teaching of the Epistle reveals its author as a Jew familiar with the Old Testament, and a Christian thoroughly grounded in the teachings of the Gospel. External evidence from the early Fathers and Councils of the Church confirmed its authenticity and canonicity.

The date of its writing cannot be determined exactly. According to some scholars it was written about the year 49 A.D. Others, however, claim it was written after Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans (composed during the winter of 57-58 A.D.). It was probably written between the years 60 and 62 A.D.

Saint James addresses himself to the "twelve tribes that are in the Dispersion," that is, to Christians outside Palestine; but nothing in the Epistle indicates that he is thinking only of Jewish Christians. Saint James realizes full well the temptations and difficulties they encounter in the midst of paganism, and as a spiritual father, he endeavors to guide and direct them in the faith. Therefore, the burden of his discourse is an exhortation to practical Christian living.