St. Philip and James, Apostles and Martyrs

May 11 [New]

St. Philip

Like the brothers, Peter and Andrew, Philip was a native of Bethsaida on Lake Genesareth (John 1:44). He also was among those surrounding the Baptist when the latter first pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God. On the day after Peter's call, when about to set out for Galilee, Jesus met Philip and called him to the Apostolate with the words, "Follow me". Philip obeyed the call, and a little later brought Nathaniel as a new disciple (John 1:43-45). On the occasion of the selection and sending out of the twelve, Philip is included among the Apostles proper. His name stands in the fifth place in the three lists (Matt. 10: 2-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke7:13-16) after the two pairs of brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John. The Fourth Gospel records three episodes concerning Philip which occurred during the epoch of the public teaching of the Saviour:

Before the miraculous feeding of the multitude, Christ turns towards Philip with the question: "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" to which the Apostle answers: "Two hundred penny-worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little" (6:5-7).

When some heathens in Jerusalem came to Philip and expressed their desire to see Jesus, Philip reported the fact to Andrew and then both brought the news to the Saviour (12:21-23).

When Philip, after Christ had spoken to His Apostles of knowing and seeing the Father, said to Him: "Lord, shew us the Father, and it is enough for us", he received the answer: "He that seeth me, seeth the Father also" (14:8-9).

These three episodes furnish a consistent character-sketch of Philip as a naïve, somewhat shy, sober-minded man. No additional characteristics are given in the Gospels or the Acts, although he is mentioned in the latter work (1:13) as belonging to the Apostolic College.

He was Martyred under Aurelius.

St. James the Less

The only direct information which the New Testament provides about the second Apostle who bore the name James is that he was the 'son of Alphaeus' (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). He is probably to be identified with the recipient of a vision of the Risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:7), and is, doubtless, the same James who is depicted as the leading Christian of the Church of Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18). Finally, it seems natural to identify him with the Lord's brother of that name mentioned in the Gospels (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). It was the opinion of St. Jerome-----an opinion for a long time generally accepted-----that James, son of Alphaeus, and James, the Lord's brother, are the same person.

Similarly, if one keeps in mind the pre-eminent position occupied by James, the Lord's brother, among the Jewish converts at Jerusalem, he would appear the most likely author of the Epistle of James, a letter addressed primarily to the convert Jews of the Dispersion.

Early Christian tradition agrees with Josephus in stating that James, the Lord's brother, was put to death by the Jewish authorities (probably in the year 62). Hegesippus, writing in the second century, describes James as an ascetic-----'wine and strong drink he drank not, nor did he meat; he neither shaved his head, nor anointed himself with oil . . . and the skin of his knees was hardened like a camel's through his much praying.' He was held in high repute for his sanctity, but gradually incurred the envy and enmity of the scribes and pharisees because of his sway over the people, and this culminated in their stoning him to death within the temple precincts, while he was addressing the crowd.

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