May 11, 2017: SS. PHILIP & JAMES (THE LESS), APOSTLES
May 11, 2017: SS. PHILIP & JAMES (THE LESS), APOSTLES
Rank: Double of the II Class.
Have I been so long with you, and you know me not? O Philip, he that seeth me, seeth also my Father. Alleluia.
They cried out unto thee, O Lord, in their affliction: and thou didst hear them from heaven. Alleluia, Alleluia.
O God, who comfortest us by the yearly solemnity of thy Apostles Philip and James; grant, we beseech thee, that we may be instructed by their example, for whose merits we rejoice. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in unity of the Holy Ghost, God, World without end. Amen.
Two of the favoured witnesses of our beloved Jesus' Resurrection come before us on this day of May. Philip and James are here, bearing testimony to us, that their Master is truly risen from the dead, that they have seen him, that they have touched him, that they have conversed with him (I. St. John, i. 1), during these forty days. And, that we may have no doubt as to the truth of their testimony, they hold in their hands the instruments of the martyrdom they underwent for asserting that Jesus, after having suffered death, came to life again and rose from the grave. Philip is leaning upon the cross to which he was fastened, as Jesus had been; James is holding the club wherewith he was struck dead.
Philip preached the Gospel in the two Phrygias, and his martyrdom took place at Hierapolis. He was married when he was called by our Saviour; and we learn from writers of the second century, that he had three daughters, remarkable for their great piety,—one of whom lived at Ephesus, where she was justly revered as one of the glories of that early Church.
James is better known than Philip. He is called, in the sacred Scripture, Brother of the Lord, (Gal, i. 19) on account of the close relationship that existed between his own mother and the Blessed Mother of Jesus. He claims our veneration, during Paschal Time, inasmuch as he was favoured with a special visit from our Risen Lord, as we learn from St. Paul (I. Cor, xv. 7). There can be no doubt, but what he had done something to deserve this mark of Jesus' predilection. St. Jerome and St. Epiphanius tell us, that our Saviour, when ascending into heaven, recommended to St. James' care the Church of Jerusalem, and that he was accordingly appointed the first Bishop of that City. The Christians of Jerusalem, in the 4th Century, had possession of the Chair on which St. James used to sit, when he assisted at the assemblies of the Faithful. St. Epiphanius also tells us, that the holy Apostle used to wear a lamina of gold upon his forehead, as the badge of his dignity. His garment was a tunic made of linen.
He was held in such high repute for virtue, that the people of Jerusalem called him "The Just;" and when the time of the Siege came, instead of attributing the frightful punishment, they then endured, to the deicide they or their fathers had committed, they would have it to be a consequence of the murder of James, who, when dying, prayed for his people. The admirable Epistle he has left us bears testimony to the gentleness and uprightness of his character. He there teaches us, with an eloquence of an inspired writer, that works must go along with our Faith, if we would be Just with that Justice, which makes us like our Risen Lord.
The bodies of Saints Philip and James repose in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles, at Rome. These Relics are counted as one of the richest treasures of the Holy City… For a long period, the Church of Rome kept special Feasts in honour of four only of the Apostles: SS. Peter and Paul, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Andrew (Peter's Brother): the rest were united in the solemnity of the 29th of June, and a vestige of this is still to be found in the Office of that Day… The reception of the Bodies of SS. Philip and James, which were brought from the East, somewhere about the 6th Century, gave rise to the institution of to-day's Feast; and this led gradually to the insertion into the Calendar of the special Feasts for the other Apostles and Evangelists.
Let us now read the brief account given of St. Philip in the Liturgy.
Philip was born at Bethsaida, and was one of the twelve Apostles that were first called by Christ our Lord. It was from Philip that Nathanael learned that the Messias had come who was promised in the Law; and by him also he was led to our Lord. We have a clear proof of the familiarity wherewith Philip was treated by Christ, in the fact of the Gentiles addressing themselves to this Apostle, when they wished to see the Saviour. Again, when our Lord was about to feed the multitude in the desert, he spoke to Philip, and said: “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” Having received the Holy Ghost, he went into Scythia, which was the country allotted to him, wherein to preach the Gospel; and he converted almost its entire people to the Christian Faith. Having, finally, reached Hierapolis, in Phrygia, he was crucified there for the name of Christ, and then stoned to death… The Christians buried his body in the same place; but it was afterwards taken to Rome, and, together with the body of the Apostle St. James, was placed in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles.
The Breviary then gives the two following Lessons upon St. James.
James, the brother of our Lord, was called "the Just." From his childhood, he never drank wine or strong drink; he abstained from flesh-meat; he never cut his hair, or used oil to anoint his limbs, or took a bath. He was the only one permitted to enter the Holy of Holies. His garments were of linen. So assiduous was he in prayer, that the skin of his knees was as hard as that of a camel. After Christ's Ascension, the Apostles made him Bishop of Jerusalem; and it was to him that the Prince of the Apostles sent the news of his being delivered out of prison by an Angel. A dispute having arisen in the Council of Jerusalem concerning the Mosaic Law and Circumcision, James sided with Peter, and, in a speech which he made to the Brethren, proved the Vocation of the Gentiles, and said that the absent Brethren were to be written to, and told not to impose the yoke of the Mosaic Law upon the Gentiles. It is of him that the Apostle speaks in his Epistle to the Galatians, when he says: But other of the Apostles I saw none, saving James, the brother of the Lord.
Such was James' holy life, that people used to strive with each other to touch the hem of his garment. At the age of ninety-six years,—of which he had spent thirty governing the Church of Jerusalem in the most saintly manner,—as he was one day preaching, with great courage, Christ the Son of God, he was attacked by stones being thrown at him; after which, he was taken to the highest part of the Temple, and cast headlong down. His legs were broken by the fall; and, as he was lying half dead upon the ground, he raised up his hands towards heaven, and thus prayed for his executioners: “Forgive them, O Lord! for they know not what they do.” Whilst thus praying, he received a blow on the head with a fuller's club, and gave up his soul to his God, in the seventh year of Nero's reign. He was buried near the Temple, from which he had been thrown down. He wrote a Letter, which is one of the seven Catholic Epistles.
Holy Apostles! you saw our Risen Jesus in all his glory. He said to you on the evening of that great Sunday: Peace be to you! He appeared to you during the forty days following, that he might make you certain of his Resurrection. Great indeed must have been your joy at seeing, once more, that dear Master, who had admitted you into the number of his chosen Twelve; and his return made your love of him more than ever fervent. We address ourselves to you as our special patrons during this holy Season, and most earnestly do we beseech you to teach us how to know and love the great mystery of our Lord's Resurrection. May our hearts glow with Paschal joy, and may we never lose the New Life that our Jesus has now given unto us.
Thou, Philip! wast all devoted to him, even from the first day of his calling thee. Scarcely hadst thou come to know him as the Messias, than thou announcedst the great tidings to thy friend Nathanael. Jesus treated thee with affectionate familiarity. When about to work the great miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, it was to thee that he addressed himself, and said to thee: Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? (St. John, vi. 5) A few days before the Passion of thy Divine Master, some of the Gentiles wished to see this great Prophet, of whom they had heard such wonderful things, and it was to thee they applied. How fervently didst thou not ask him, at the Last Supper, to show thee the Father! Thy soul longed for the divine Light; and when the rays of the Holy Ghost had inflamed thy spirit, nothing could daunt thy courage. As a reward of thy labours, Jesus gave thee to share with him the honours of the Cross. O holy Apostle! intercede for us, that we may imitate thy devotedness to Jesus; and that, when he deigns to send us the Cross, we may reverence and love it.
(Thou James the less,) We also honour thy love of Jesus, O thou that art called the Brother of the Lord, and on whose venerable features was stamped the likeness of this our Redeemer. If, like the rest of the Apostles, thou didst abandon him in his Passion, thy repentance was speedy and earnest, for thou wast the first, after Peter, to whom he appeared after his Resurrection. We affectionately congratulate thee, James, for the honour thus conferred upon thee; do thou, in return, obtain for us, that we may taste and see how sweet is our Risen Lord (Ps, xxxiii. 9). Thy ambition was to give him every possible proof of thy gratitude; and the last testimony thou didst bear, in the faithless City, to the Divinity of thy dear Master, (when the Jews took thee to the top of the Temple,) opened to thee, by Martyrdom, the way-that was to unite thee to him for eternity. Pray for us, O thou generous Apostle, that we, also, may confess his holy Name, with the firmness becoming his disciples; and that we may ever be brave and loyal in proclaiming his rights as King over all creatures.
O holy Apostles! we beseech you to unite your prayers, and intercede for the Churches of the East, to which you preached the Gospel. Have compassion on Jerusalem, the dupe of schism and heresy, the slave of the Infidel; obtain her purification and her liberty; and rid her Holy Places of the sacrileges that have so long polluted them. Lead back the Christians of Asia Minor to union with the Fold governed by the one supreme Pastor. And lastly, pray for Rome, the City where your bodies repose, awaiting their glorious Resurrection. In return for the long hospitality she has given you, shield her with your protection; and permit not, that the City of Peter,—your venerable Head,—should be (more) deprived of its grandest glory,—the presence of the Vicar of Christ.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - The Paschal Time, Vol. II, Dublin, Edition 1871.
Pray for us, Oh Holy Apostles, Ss. Philip and James (the Less);
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.