Thursday, May 03, 2007

Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles

Today is the feast day of two Apostles, St. Philip and St. James. The following are excerpts from an article online ( about their heroic lives. St. Philip and St. James, pray for us.

James, Son of Alphaeus: We know nothing of this man but his name, and of course the fact that Jesus chose him to be one of the 12 pillars of the New Israel, his Church. He is not the James of Acts, son of Clopas, “brother” of Jesus and later bishop of Jerusalem and the traditional author of the Letter of James. James, son of Alphaeus, is also known as James the Lesser to avoid confusing him with James the son of Zebedee, also an apostle and known as James the Greater.

Philip: Philip came from the same town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida in Galilee. Jesus called him directly, whereupon he sought out Nathanael and told him of the “one about whom Moses wrote” (John 1:45).

Like the other apostles, Philip took a long time coming to realize who Jesus was. On one occasion, when Jesus saw the great multitude following him and wanted to give them food, he asked Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat. St. John comments, “[Jesus] said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do” (John 6:6). Philip answered, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit]” (John 6:7).

John’s story is not a put-down of Philip. It was simply necessary for these men who were to be the foundation stones of the Church to see the clear distinction between humanity’s total helplessness apart from God and the human ability to be a bearer of divine power by God’s gift.
On another occasion, we can almost hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice. After Thomas had complained that they did not know where Jesus was going, Jesus said, “I am the way...If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6a, 7). Then Philip said, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8). Enough! Jesus answered, “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” (John 14:9a).

Possibly because Philip bore a Greek name or because he was thought to be close to Jesus, some Gentile proselytes came to him and asked him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip went to Andrew, and Andrew went to Jesus. Jesus’ reply in John’s Gospel is indirect; Jesus says that now his “hour” has come, that in a short time he will give his life for Jew and Gentile alike.

As in the case of the other apostles, we see in James and Philip human men who became foundation stones of the Church, and we are reminded again that holiness and its consequent apostolate are entirely the gift of God, not a matter of human achieving. All power is God’s power, even the power of human freedom to accept his gifts. “You will be clothed with power from on high,” Jesus told Philip and the others. Their first commission had been to expel unclean spirits, heal diseases, announce the kingdom. They learned, gradually, that these externals were sacraments of an even greater miracle inside their persons—the divine power to love like God.

“He sent that as sharers in his power they might make all peoples his disciples, sanctifying and governing them.... They were fully confirmed in this mission on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:1–26) in accordance with the Lord’s promise: ‘You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me...even to the very ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). By everywhere preaching the gospel (cf. Mark 16:20), which was accepted by their hearers under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the apostles gathered together the universal Church, which the Lord established on the apostles and built upon blessed Peter, their chief, Christ Jesus himself remaining the supreme cornerstone...” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 19).


At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unrelated question: Is it appropriate for a Eucharistic Minister to give a blessing to a child when the child accompanies his parent to receive Communion? This happened recently and I was really taken aback by it -- not that I was offended, just surprised. I guess it leads to the question of the meaning of a priest's blessing and the source of his authority to give it.

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It always happens at the school masses when a non-catholic student goes up during communion. Usually teachers are the ministers then, and I thought it was nice to see students being blessed by their teachers. Don't know about it being correct or not.

At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Zophiel said...

I've always thought it was pretty standard practice. I've been in a lot of different churches in my life due to travel, and unless they still used a communion rail, this is what they did.

While a priest's blessing may be more, um, authoritative--especially during the Mass, when he is acting in persona Christi-- this doesn't exclude lay people from the ability to give a blessing-- or rather, to ask the Lord to bless the child. I guess I've never considered the blessing of the child who comes up to be a specifically priestly office, but rather more along the lines of something all baptised Catholics may do. Like a blessing a meal before it is consumed . . .

I'll grant that maybe a priest's blessing has more "oomph!", and there are certainly roles and actions that are only appropriate to a duly ordained priest, but I don't think that asking the Lord to bless a kid is one of them.

[Of course, I could be completely wrong on this, and I trust Father Greg, or Kat, or someone else to call me on it if I am. . .]

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Dont look at me *looks around wildly* I dunno.

At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few days ago there was a lot of commentary over a post about forgiveness. Several bloggers wrote on their struggles to forgive. Those exchanges stayed with me these past days. Recently I read writings of St. Augustine of Hippo that drew my attention as did this site's exchange that day. St. Augustine wrote about "Why Weeping is Pleasant to the Wretched". He lost a friend and went into mourning, so much so that the mourning became more important to him than his loss. He wrote that nothing in God could ever be truly lost, and if he turned to his faith rather than his misery, he'd have both hope and joy.

I'm not minimizing the experiences of some who responded that day- what several described is life altering in huge ways! I am only speaking for me- sometimes (well, often) my anger and all those other emotions become my sole focus when I think someone has wronged me. After some time, I may forget some of the most important details of an incident in question, but ask me about my feelings about the incident, and I can perfectly recall each negative emotion. In those times, I've lost myself in my "misery". My misery has become more important that the thing I'm struggling to forgive. By the time I look to forgive someone, most of the pain I'm experiencing has actually been created via perseveration by ME!

At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our school teachers are extrodinary. They teach our kids to read and write, but we are especially fortunate at SAA to have teachers that make it important to help our kids connect with their faith.

Recently a little girl in our school has undergone a battle for her life. I don't know all the details regarding her condition and prognosis, but suffice to say, things were really rough for sometime (and she still a long road ahead). Each morning the kids offer their hopes and concerns to the class' prayer box. For so many months, each day this child's name was offered for prayer. My child asked, after so many days and all these prayers, why didn't God make her better by now. The teacher didn't miss a beat- no long, complicated story about how/why our prayers are answered, but simply said that this little girl is getting better each day, but she had been really sick, and it was going to take lots and lots of praying to make her all better. She suggested that my child pray for her all each night, and said to pray really hard, which my child now does. This teacher has taught these kids that the power of prayer is theirs and it makes a difference, and the kids get it. I think that's spectacular!

I've heard that this child is doing better- a testament to the prayers of so many who think of her and her family so often.


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