Wednesday, 3 May 2017 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great feast of not just one, but two of the Lord’s very own Twelve Apostles, namely St. Philip the Apostle, and St. James the Apostle, or St. James the Greater, to distinguish him from the other St. James, the Lesser, the half-brother and relative of the Lord. The Apostles were all those whom God had chosen to be His principal disciples, those whom He had entrusted great tasks in carrying out the Good News and its preaching to the many nations, and also as those who would lead the Church that He had established in this world.

It was told in the Acts of the Apostles that St. Philip converted the official of the Queen of the Ethiopians, who was travelling home from Jerusalem to his homeland. St. Philip taught him the truth about what the prophets, particularly that of the prophet Isaiah, had spoken out about the coming of the Messiah and the salvation of the world. He explained to him how Jesus is the Messiah and the perfect fulfilment of God’s long promised salvation for His people.

St. Philip explained with such great clarity and zeal that the official believed in him and the truth which he had heard. As a result, the official asked to be baptised as a Christian, and St. Philip agreed to do so. The official then went on his way to home, carrying the truth of God and the message of the Gospels to his own people. This was told to be the beginning of the Church and the Christian faith among the Ethiopians.

St. Philip and also St. James went to various places, from town to town, and from places to places, spreading the Good News of God to the people, preaching about the salvation in Jesus Christ among the Jews, among the Samaritans and among Gentiles, the Greeks and other foreign peoples. Many converted to the faith and believed in the Lord, having heard the testimony of the faith of the Apostles, and after having seen the miracles of God performed through them.

St. Philip went to many places, throughout what is now Greece and Turkey, helping to establish many early Christian communities in those places. St. James meanwhile was told to travel to many places throughout the Roman Empire, and ended up in Spain, then called Hispania, preaching the Gospel of Christ there and helping to establish the first foundation of the Church in that remote area of the Empire.

Both St. Philip and St. James would encounter great persecutions, rejections and sufferings during their ministries and works. St. James himself was among the first of the Apostles of the Lord to suffer martyrdom, as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. St. James was arrested by king Herod, king of Galilee, who then proceeded to put him to death in order to please the Jewish leaders.

St. Philip, meanwhile, met great resistance in some of the places he went to, and eventually was put to death in the Greek city of Hierapolis by the local governor, who persecuted the Christians there and rejected the teachings of Christ. It was told that St. Philip, together with the other Apostle, St. Bartholomew, were crucified upside down, but they met their end in martyrdom with joy, knowing that God was with them all the way to the end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of the holy Apostles St. Philip and St. Bartholomew should be inspiration for each one of us, in how we should live out our faith life. There are still many people out there who have not yet heard the Good News of the Lord, and still lived in the darkness of ignorance and sin. If we do not do anything, then these brethren of ours may fall into eternal damnation in hell, and surely, we should not allow such a thing to happen.

All of us should be courageous in our faith, and be strong in our commitment to the Lord as they had done. Let us all commit ourselves to God more faithfully and with more zeal and strength, as we listened to the truth and the story of the Apostles today. We have to continue the good works they have started, for the salvation of all mankind. Amen.

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