Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all celebrate the feast of two of the great Apostles of Our Lord, namely St. Philip as well as St. James, son of Alpheus, also known as St. James the Lesser, to distinguish him from the brother of St. John, St. James the Greater. Both Apostles laboured and worked hard to serve the Lord and brought His Good News to the far corners of the world. Today as we celebrate their memory, we remember these faithful men who had given their all and their whole lives in service to God.
St. Philip was one of the close followers of Christ, remembered for being the one who consulted with the Lord regarding the feeding of the five thousand men on how to feed all the people with just five loaves of bread and two fishes. He witnessed everything that the Lord has been doing, all the miracles and wonders He has shown before all the people, His truth and wisdom. Then, after the resurrection, St. Philip was instrumental in revealing the faith and truth to an Ethiopian official on his way back from Jerusalem to his homeland, and managed to persuade the official to ask for baptism.
Afterwards, St. Philip also ministered to the people of God in various places, and according to Apostolic tradition, he evangelised and preached about the Lord in places like Greece, Asia Minor and Syria. It was during one of those ministry, according to tradition, that he was martyred when he worked with another Apostle, St. Bartholomew, when he managed to convince the wife of the local ruler to convert to the Christian faith and the furious ruler ordered St. Philip and St. Bartholomew to be both crucified upside-down. According to the story, St. Philip asked his persecutors to release St. Bartholomew, which they did, but insisted that he himself should remain on the cross, and thus he died a martyr’s death.
Then, St. James the Lesser, known as such because he was likely younger than St. James the Greater, the brother of St. John the Apostle, was also a devoted disciple of the Lord, credited through Apostolic tradition with the evangelisation and conversion of many peoples just as St. Philip and the other Apostles had done. He was martyred in Egypt, at where he worked in spreading the Good News of the Gospel, defending the faith and remaining firmly faithful to the Lord to the very end.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in the story of the lives of the two Apostles, and also in our Scripture passages today, we are all reminded that we are the witnesses of the Lord’s truth, the same truth that the Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord had seen, and for which many of them, including St. Philip and St. James, were willing to suffer and even die in martyrdom defending that very truth. If they had not seen the truth or known that the Lord and the Christian faith is a lie, as what the Pharisees and the chief priests were trying to convince the people otherwise, then they would not have been willing to give themselves to suffering and die.
The Lord Himself has revealed the whole truth to His disciples, and He has also affirmed, strengthened and guided them through the Holy Spirit, Whom He sent to all the disciples that they might be strengthened in faith, gained wisdom and courage to preach the Good News and the truth to all. And the same truth and the same Holy Spirit have been passed on to us as well, brothers and sisters in Christ, through the Church that we are all member of and which we are part of as the living Body of Christ, composed of all those who believe in Him.
That is why, today as we rejoice and celebrate together the Feast of the great Apostles, St. Philip and St. James, all of us are reminded that we are all also part of the same evangelising mission that the Lord has entrusted to His Apostles and disciples, and we should be aware that we need to be part of this mission, and walk faithfully in the Lord’s path following the examples of those who have gone before us. They have seen the truth of the Lord, and they have laboured and persevered through sufferings and trials so that they might pass on the truth to others, and so that is also how we have received the same truth, through the Church.
Let us all therefore discern carefully our path in life going forward from now. Let us consider how each and every one of us can be part of this mission that the Lord has entrusted to all of us, so that we may also pass on the same truth and the same light of Christ to more and more people, to all those whom we encounter in life. And we have to be good role models and exemplary in the way of life therefore, or else, we will end up scandalising our faith and causing people to turn away from the Lord instead, and the blame will be on us for causing that to happen.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this era and time, when the world is facing so much darkness and so many people are lost in the temptations of sin and evil, in the pressure and coercion to follow the path of selfishness, of worldly desires and of all things that are against the Lord’s truth, let us all be the beacons of light and hope, that each and every one of us, in our own little ways, may do whatever we can to lead others to the right path, inspiring more and more to seek the Lord and to find their way to the true grace and happiness found in God alone.
That is why, we are all challenged to redirect our focus in life and to reorganise our lives that if now we have been living mostly for ourselves, then we should follow the examples of St. Philip and St. James, both of whom have made themselves all things to all mankind, giving their very best to be the source of hope and inspiration to others, and to show the right path to those who are lost, not just through mere words alone, but also through genuine actions and faith. Are we willing and able to commit in this manner, brothers and sisters?
May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us with faith, and that we may draw courage and inspiration from those who went before us, that we may not easily give up in the face of trials and challenges, difficulties and persecutions. May God bless us and our every good endeavours and efforts, always. Amen.