Sts. Philip and James

May 3

John 14:6-14

Today we are celebrating the Feast of the two of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, Sts. Philip and James. As a rule, the Church considers the twelve apostles so important that each one of them was given a separate feast. However, there are two exceptions to this rule. The apostles Simon and Jude are remembered together on October 28. The other exception is, of course, the pairing of Philip and James in today’s feast.

St. Philip (c. 1st century) was from Bethsaida. Tradition holds that he preached in Phrygia, dying on a cross at Hierapolis; and two apocryphal books were attributed to him. With St. James, he is venerated as the patron saint of Uruguay.

According to the 365 Days with the Lord (2007) that throughout the gospels, Philip appears in four cameo scenes. First, there is the mention of his call (Jn 1:43-44). Second, before the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves (Jn 6:5-7), Jesus asked Philip whether they could buy enough food for the big crowd, and he answered that even 200 days’ wages would not suffice to feed them. The question was meant to test his faith in the power of Jesus, and he failed the test since it never entered his mind to ask Jesus for a miracle. Thirdly, Philip reappears on the gospel scene when a group of Greeks, who wanted an interview with Jesus, asked Philip to act as a go-between. Why him? Probably because he spoke Greek since he had a Greek name (Philip is Greek for “lover of horses”) and he came from the lake town of Bethsaida, where Greek was widely spoken. The last appearance of Philip takes place at the Last Supper (Jn 14:8-9), when he asked Jesus to show them the Father, and Jesus gently rebuked him: “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. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

The other apostle we remember today is St. James. He is surnamed, ‘the Less’ (July 25). Or ‘the Just’ for his piety; believed to have been beaten or stoned to death; a patron of the dying. Together with St. Philip, he is mentioned in the Roman Canon. We know that there are two James as apostles of Jesus, Sts. James the son of Alphaeus and James the son of Zebedee and the brother of John. Today’s feast of St. James is the son of Alphaeus. We know a little about him. St. James the son of Alphaeus was the same as James of Jerusalem, the cousin of Jesus; later became the first bishop of Jerusalem; played an important role at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15); and probably the one wrote the Letter of James we have in the Bible.

If you can still remember this TV commercial of San Miguel Beer by which towards the end, it says: “Wala ka ng hahanapin pa!” I’m sure this is the wish of St. Philip in today’s gospel. He asks Jesus: “Master, show us the Father and that will be enough for us,” (v.8). He is fulfilled as we say if this request is granted to him..

But where do we find our fulfilment and satisfaction? Abraham Maslow, a known psychologist, had popularized what we call, “Hierarchy of Needs.” It is because human needs are an important part of human nature. And Maslow felt that human needs were arranged in a hierarchical order. He based his theory on healthy, creative people who used all their talents, potential and capabilities. This hierarchy of values are the following:

7. Self-actualization– know exactly who you are, where you are going, and what you want to accomplish.

6. Aesthetic – at peace, more curious about inner workings of all like working harmony and harmonious relationships.

5. Cognitive – learning for learning alone, contribute knowledge.

4. Esteem – feeling of moving up in world, recognition, few doubts about self.

3. Belongingness and love – belong to a group, close friends to confide with.

2. Safety – feel free from immediate danger.

1. Physiological – food, water, shelter, sex.

But towards the end of His life, Maslow realized that self-actualization is not enough. There is a need for Self-transcendence. Transcendence means to go beyond, that is, to go beyond our physiological or material, emotional, mental, psychological and social needs. It is like St. Philip who exclaims to Jesus: “Master, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” In other words, to be fulfilled is to be filled with God, to be with God. And once we have God, we can exclaim: “Wala ka ng hahanapin pa!” as one priest said in his homily. Are we still looking for something or are we looking for someone who is Jesus, our fulfilment and satisfaction. He says: “I am the way and the truth and the life,” (v. 6).

See Today’s Readings:  Saints Philip and James, Apostles

Back to: Saints and Solemnities

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