Friday, May 3, 2013

Fathers of Our Ancient Faith

Two of the more obscure of the Apostles, SS Philip and James the Less, whose feast it is today, deserve to be better known and celebrated. 
Poor Philip is often portrayed as the one who failed to see the Father in Jesus, yet if he wasn't for his request of Jesus to see the Father, we would not have had that wonderful teaching from the Lord on the Holy Trinity.  Philip preached the Gospel in Greece and Turkey and he was martyred in Hierapolis.  According to the legend he was crucified and as he died he used his cross as a pulpit to continue his preaching - there's determined discipleship for you.  The lesson we learn from this: our sufferings can provide us with opportunities to proclaim the Gospel.  When we proclaim the truth in the midst of our pain we have a credibility that few can ignore.  Remember the example of Blessed John Paul II - his teaching on the dignity of human life was never so eloquent as in his last years when he carried his cross for all to see.
James the Less, the son of Alphaeus, was believed to be related to Jesus.  He is said to be the James who was bishop of Jerusalem, presiding over the first Council of the Church which took place there, and the author of the Letter of James in the New Testament, though some scholars dispute this.  In his lifetime he was venerated by Christians and Jews alike for his holiness and austerity of life.  He too was martyred - thrown from the Temple by Pharisees and then stoned to death.  St James teaches us that we need to be wary of our reputation, even it is honestly gained.  Though he was seen to be holy, it did not stop some from killing him - indeed his reputation for holiness may have been enraged his enemies.  James was unconcerned - his focus was Jesus his Lord, and he sought to serve him.
The tomb of SS Philip and James is in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles in Rome.

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