Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the glorious Feast of not just one but two of the Lord’s glorious Apostles, two of the Twelve Apostles, namely that of St. Philip and St. James, the two faithful servants of God who had dedicated their lives in the service of God, and who had persevered despite the challenges and trials they had to endure as part of their ministry. Both of them laboured hard to spread the words of the Gospels and the Good News to the far corners of the world, enduring many sufferings and joy during their ministries, and eventually martyrdom for the sake of the Lord and His Church. They are celebrated together because historically, their relics were translated to Rome on the same day.
St. Philip was one of the Lord’s closest disciples who was mentioned in several occasions in the Gospels, especially in the Gospel of St. John, one of which accounts was part of our Gospel passage today. St. Philip was mentioned in today’s Gospel when he asked the Lord Jesus to show him and the other disciples the Father, God the heavenly Father Whom Jesus had been speaking about. This was met with the incredulous words from the Lord as He told St. Philip and the other disciples that they had seen the Father just as they had seen Him, all because He and the Father are One, and seeing Him means that one has seen the Father manifested in the flesh, as the Lord Jesus was indeed the Divine Word of God Incarnate.
St. Philip was also mentioned when the Lord miraculously fed five thousand men and many others with just five loaves of bread and two fishes, which was our Gospel passage just a few days ago. He was the one to present the food offered by a child to the Lord, and was also the one who introduced Nathanael, also known as St. Bartholomew the Apostle, to the Lord. He was also the one who proclaimed the Lord to the Ethiopian official as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles early in the Church history. And later on, he was also involved in many works of evangelisation, preaching the Gospels and the Good News to the people in far off places, in Greece, parts of Syria and Asia Minor in Phrygia.
Meanwhile, St. James, also known as St. James the Less, to distinguish him from St. James the Greater, the brother of St. John the Apostle, was identified as either St. James, son of Alphaeus or as St. James, one of the brothers or more accurately, relatives of the Lord Jesus. He was called ‘Less’ because of his relatively shorter stature as compared to St. James the Greater, and he was a relative of one other follower of Jesus, identified as Mary, wife of Cleopas. He was often widely credited with the authorship of the Epistle of St. James, and he was also involved in many evangelising missions in various places, although the details were less than that was available for St. Philip and the other more renowned Apostles.
Regardless of the details of their exact activities and involvements in the Church and its missions, what we all ought to know is the fact that each and every one of them and the other Apostles had dedicated their whole lives in the service of God, and having been encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they had proclaimed the Lord with joy and fervour, seeking to glorify Him by their lives, by their every words and actions. And those Apostles did not fear even persecutions, trials, sufferings and challenges in life, and they bore their crosses with true dedication and love for God and His people.
As we come together today to celebrate and mark the great memories of these two wonderful saints, the Holy Apostles of Our Lord, St. Philip and St. James, we are all called to reflect on ourselves and on our own calling in life. Each one of us as Christians are disciples and followers of the Lord, and we are all called to the same mission that the Lord has entrusted to His Apostles. The Lord has given to us the mission to reach out to more people among the nations, that we may be the genuine witnesses of His truth, love and resurrection among all the people of God. We are the ones to be the beacons of God’s light in our respective communities today.
The question is, are we all ready and willing to embark on this journey of faith, together with God and following in the footsteps of the Apostles like St. Philip and St. James? Are we also willing to make sacrifices of time and effort, offering our best to serve the Lord and to be the examples and inspirations for one another, that we may ever be more courageous in living our lives with faith? Each and every one of us have been given and entrusted with the mission to call more and more people to the light and truth of God. We have to make that conscious effort to live our lives worthily and devote ourselves thoroughly to His cause from now on.
Let us all therefore do our best to serve the Lord by our every contributions, even to the smallest and seemingly least significant actions we do. For it is by our combined works and efforts that God will extend His reach and works ever more gloriously among His people. Let us all spend more time in building up our relationship with God and in deepening our understanding of our faith, so that we may be truly inspirational to all those who witness our lives and works. Let us walk in the path of the Apostles and do whatever we can to proclaim the Lord in each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us always in our every efforts and good works, now and forevermore. St. Philip and St. James, Holy Apostles of the Lord, pray for us sinners. Amen.