Sts. Philip and James
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James, Son of Alphaeus: We know nothing of this man except his name, and of course the fact that Jesus chose him to be one of the 12 pillars of the New Israel, his Church. He is not the James of Acts, son of Clopas, â€œbrotherâ€ of Jesus and later bishop of Jerusalem and the traditional author of the Letter of James. James, son of Alphaeus, is also known as James the Lesser to avoid confusing him with James the son of Zebedee, also an apostle and known as James the Greater.
Philip: Philip came from the same town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida in Galilee. Jesus called him directly, whereupon he sought out Nathanael and told him of the â€œone about whom Moses wroteâ€ (John 1:45).
Like the other apostles, Philip took a long time coming to realize who Jesus was. On one occasion, when Jesus saw the great multitude following him and wanted to give them food, he asked Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat. St. John comments, â€œ[Jesus] said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to doâ€ (John 6:6). Philip answered, â€œTwo hundred daysâ€™ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit]â€ (John 6:7).
Johnâ€™s story is not a put-down of Philip. It was simply necessary for these men who were to be the foundation stones of the Church to see the clear distinction between humanityâ€™s total helplessness apart from God and the human ability to be a bearer of divine power by Godâ€™s gift.
On another occasion, we can almost hear the exasperation in Jesusâ€™ voice. After Thomas had complained that they did not know where Jesus was going, Jesus said, â€œI am the way...If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen himâ€ (John 14:6a, 7). Then Philip said, â€œMaster, show us the Father, and that will be enough for usâ€ (John 14:
. Enough! Jesus answered, â€œHave I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Fatherâ€ (John 14:9a).
Possibly because Philip bore a Greek name or because he was thought to be close to Jesus, some Gentile proselytes came to him and asked him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip went to Andrew, and Andrew went to Jesus. Jesusâ€™ reply in Johnâ€™s Gospel is indirect; Jesus says that now his â€œhourâ€ has come, that in a short time he will give his life for Jew and Gentile alike.
As in the case of the other apostles, we see in James and Philip human men who became foundation stones of the Church, and we are reminded again that holiness and its consequent apostolate are entirely the gift of God, not a matter of human achieving. All power is Godâ€™s power, even the power of human freedom to accept his gifts. â€œYou will be clothed with power from on high,â€ Jesus told Philip and the others. Their first commission had been to expel unclean spirits, heal diseases, announce the kingdom. They learned, gradually, that these externals were sacraments of an even greater miracle inside their personsâ€”the divine power to love like God.
â€œHe sent them...so that as sharers in his power they might make all peoples his disciples, sanctifying and governing them.... They were fully confirmed in this mission on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:1â€“26) in accordance with the Lordâ€™s promise: â€˜You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me...even to the very ends of the earthâ€™ (Acts 1:
. By everywhere preaching the gospel (cf. Mark 16:20), which was accepted by their hearers under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the apostles gathered together the universal Church, which the Lord established on the apostles and built upon blessed Peter, their chief, Christ Jesus himself remaining the supreme cornerstone...â€ (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 19).
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