Today we celebrate the feast day of two of the twelve apostles, Philip and James. Philip and James are not the most well known of Jesus’s disciples. Philip is mentioned in two significant ways in the Bible: Jesus turns to him for help with the feeding of the 5,000, and at the Last Supper Philip says, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ When you read about James, you find several references to others named James, and you learn that he’s not the most important one. He’s listed as one of the Twelve, and that’s pretty much it.
So what can we learn from these two men? I found myself wishing I could find something amazing that they had said, something heroic they had done. Then I realized I was being terribly narrow-minded. We have lots to learn and celebrate about Phillip and James, and we don’t need to know anything more about them than this:
They walked away from everything they knew and everything they loved to follow Jesus. Can you imagine doing that? I can’t.
They don’t need to be extraordinary characters in the Jesus story. Phillip and James teach us that if they can do it, we can do it. I’m always looking for ways to empower my girls to know that they can be whomever and whatever they want to be, combined with a heavy dose of reality. We can’t all be superstars. Everyone won’t remember us or know our stories. But we can walk with Jesus, and we can follow his teachings to the best of our abilities. That makes us special.
Apostles are people who said yes when other people said no. The disciples unconsciously lived the parables Jesus told. Philip and James made the ultimate sacrifice and walked away from everything they knew and loved to follow someone they just met. Somehow, they knew that Jesus offered something they couldn’t comprehend or deny. We would do well to teach our children to follow the example of the Apostles, who followed, then risked their lives to share the good news with others.
Saint Philip and Saint James, thank you for saying yes to Jesus.
Almighty God, who gave to your apostles Saint Philip and Saint James grace and strength fearlessly to bear testimony to the truth: Grant that we, being always mindful of their victory of faith, may learn like them to overcome the world, and glorify the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
What things can you walk away from that would bring you closer to Jesus? Have this conversation with your family and other loved ones.