Wednesday, 3 May 2023 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the Feast of not just one but two of the great Apostles of the Lord, namely that of St. Philip and St. James, two of the Twelve Apostles, part of the innermost circle and closest collaborators of the Lord’s ministry and work. Both of them like that of the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, went through many hardships and trials, and went from places to places to proclaim the Good News of the Lord, delivering the truth and love of God to more and more people who have not yet heard of Him or known Him. They laboured for many years in distant lands and in foreign places, among foreigners and others so that many more may come close to the salvation in God. Through their efforts and hard work, many have come close to the Lord and found the path to His grace, and not few followed in the footsteps of the Apostles.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, we heard of the testimony of faith that St. Paul delivered to the faithful in the city of Corinth, reminding them all to pass on the truth, knowledge and the wisdom of God’s truth which they had received from the hands of the Apostles and the other missionaries. St. Paul shared with them how he himself has received the same truth and teachings from the Apostles, who shared and passed on to him the truth about what happened in the Lord’s ministry, in everything that He had done for the sake of the salvation of the whole world. St. Paul himself did not witness everything that had happened but he received the same truth from the hands of the other Apostles and also through the wisdom and inspiration from the Holy Spirit.

The Apostles have been called and chosen to bring the Good News of the Lord to the nations, and in the case of St. Paul, while he himself never journeyed together with the Lord and His group, and in fact was an ardent and overzealous persecutor of Christians in his early moments, but this did not prevent the Lord from calling St. Paul and making him to be one of His greatest missionaries, proclaiming the message of His truth to more and more people that had not yet known Him and had not yet heard His words of truth and experienced His love. St. Paul hence shared to the people of God, the faithful in Corinth that each and every one of them ought to be missionary and evangelising as well, in committing their lives and works to the glorification of God and the proclamation of His truth and salvation. That is what all of us are called to do this day and henceforth.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard that the Lord told His disciples that He has indeed come from the Father, showing them all the fullness of God’s love and truth to them, and seeing Him is in truth the same as having seen God in His fullness of glory and love. That is because He was indeed the Love of God made manifest and perfect in this world, incarnate in the flesh as the Son of God and as the Son of Man. God has not hold back from us even His own most beloved Son, but sending Him into our midst so that all of us may experience the fullness of God’s love manifested in the flesh, as He appeared before us as the Son of Man, born of His blessed mother Mary, becoming the tangible expression of God’s ever generous love and grace. Through Christ His Son, God wants us all to experience the fullness of His love, and He wants us all to pass that love to more and more people we encounter in our own lives.

That is why each and every one of us are reminded that we should walk in the footsteps of the Holy Apostles. Both St. Philip and St. James were mentioned in today’s Scripture readings, with St. James being one of those from whom St. Paul mentioned that he had received the truth of God from, and St. Philip being present among the disciples as the Lord revealed to them in our Gospel passage today, about the truth of His nature and ministry. As mentioned, both Apostles having received, experienced and shared in the same truth of God, the fullness of His love manifested in the person of Jesus Christ, His Son, Who has suffered in His Passion, died on the cross and then Risen in glory to show us all the path to eternal life, they courageously and fearlessly went forth to proclaim this same truth to the many people and to the other disciples and followers of the Lord that they had encountered, like St. Paul and many others.

Now, as Christians, all of us have received this same truth and we are all called to follow the Apostles who had gone forth in proclaiming this truth, like St. Philip who had gone to many places in order to evangelise and spread the Good News. In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Philip was the one who proclaimed the Risen Lord to an Ethiopian official who then agreed to be baptised and become a Christian, and he was also involved in the evangelisation in the regions of Judea and Samaria, and then, he went on to other places like Syria, Greece and Phrygia in Asia Minor, among others. He ministered to the faithful and helped to build up the foundations of the Church in many places, showing encouragement and support for many of the faithful facing hardships and persecutions for their faith. According to Apostolic tradition, both St. Philip and St. Bartholomew went to the region of Hierapolis and proclaimed the Good News there, and it was there that he was martyred for his faith, either by crucifixion or beheading.

Meanwhile St. James, also known as St. James the Less, is often associated with another James, that is James son of Alphaeus, who also ministered to the faithful people of God, and proclaimed the Good News to many people all around the many regions where he had worked tirelessly to glorify the Lord. St. James also faced a lot of hardships and struggles, but he continued to spread the Good News nonetheless and inspired many among the faithful to carry on doing the same, as St. Philip and the other Apostles had done. According to one Apostolic tradition, he was martyred in the southern region of Egypt while in the midst of carrying out his mission, but what is certain is that, he died faithfully amidst the efforts he carried out to proclaim more and more of the Lord and His truth. This is the spirit that all of us should inherit as well, to be courageous in living our Christian lives and in proclaiming the Good News of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the dedication and examples showed by the Holy Apostles, St. Philip and St. James, and be strengthened and inspired to walk in the same path that they had walked. Let us all turn towards the Lord faithfully and dedicate ourselves to Him thoroughly, doing our very best to be faithful missionaries and evangelisers of our Christian faith, not just through mere words only, but also through genuine actions and works, in doing God’s will and obeying His Law and commandments, becoming true shining beacons of the Light of Christ in the midst of our community. May the Lord continue to be with us always and may He empower each one of us to walk in His presence at all times. St. Philip and St. James, Holy Apostles and devout servants of God, pray for us all. Amen.

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