SAINT PHILIP (?-c.80) and SAINT JAMES THE LESS (?-c.62), Apostles and martyrs
Today, the universal Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James the Less, two of the original Twelve Apostles chosen by Jesus to become the foundational pillars of His Church.
Philip was born in Bethsaida in Galilee, the same town where Peter and his brother Andrew lived. He was originally a disciple of Saint John the Baptist, but, after having been called by Jesus to become one of His followers, Philip immediately responded and even sought out his friend Nathaniel, telling him that Jesus was the one whom Moses and the other prophets had foretold.
Written history sometimes confuses the Apostle Philip with the Deacon Philip, about whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles. There are accounts that the Apostle Philip preached in Greece and Asia Minor, and that he was martyred about the year 80.
James the Less is called “Less”, presumably because he was either younger or smaller than the other Apostle by the same name, who is referred to as James the Great. There is considerable confusion with James the Less and the James spoken of in the Acts of the Apostles, who is referred to as the “brother” of Jesus. It is also believed that James the Less is not the author of the Epistle of James.
He is listed in the Gospels as the son of Alphaeus, and tradition tells us that Saint James the Less was martyred about the year 62.
As is often the case, historical records concerning the early disciples of the Church, unless specifically recorded in Sacred Scripture, were not written in sufficient detail to eliminate confusions and overlapping accounts of people with the same or similar names.
What we do know, as the original Twelve, Jesus chose Philip and James to become the pillars of His Church; they were present in the Upper Room at the Last Supper and when the Risen Christ appeared; they were present at our Lord’s Ascension; and they were together with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
And, with the empowerment given by the Spirit, they went forth, as our Lord had commanded, making “…disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
For more on these specially chosen men and how their lives influence our own walks of faith, please see today’s “Meditation for the Day”.
We celebrate their joint Feastday on May 3rd.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saints Philip and James the Less)
“God our Father, every year You give us joy on the festival of the Apostles Philip and James. By the help of their prayers, may we share in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Your Only Son and come to the eternal vision of Your Glory.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”