“Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” (John 14:8)
When you watch a football match, there are actually some players you never get to notice, whose names are not mentioned often yet without them, without the great work they do quietly, the team is not complete. This analogy perfectly describes the two Apostles, we celebrate today.
Philip and James were among the twelve chosen by Jesus after he had spent a whole night in prayer. (Read Luke 6:12). The James we are referring to here is described by Luke as James the Son of Alphaeus. Not one word from this James is recorded in the four canonical Gospels.
St. Paul in his letter to Corinthians today comes from mentions James as the last of the Apostles whom Jesus appeared to. St. Paul seems to suggest that Jesus’ apparitions followed a hierarchical order in order of importance.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus asked Philip: “Have I been with you all this while and you still do not know me?” This statement reflects the fact that the disciples themselves struggled for some time before coming to terms with the Divinity of Jesus; the fact that Jesus is God.
Our Gospel passage today teaches us three things: One, the Apostles were perfectly humans like us, prone to mistakes but were very open to learning. God does not call the qualified but qualifies those He calls. Two, spending time with a person doesn’t always translate into knowing that person. Experience and inspiration are not the same things. Philip like the other Apostles spent three years with Jesus but he still didn’t know him. Three, asking questions is the greatest way to learn. Do not assume you know everything or that your opinions are perfect. You may be wrong.
Above all, Philip and James teach us that as ordinary as we may see ourselves, we are not useless to God. Even though not much is said about them in the Bible, we cannot undermine their importance as far as the growth of the early Church is concerned.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may St. Philip and James teach me how to be little in serving you. Amen. (Saints Philip and James, Apostles – Feast Bible Study: 1st Corinthians 15:1-8, Psalm 19 and John 14:6-14).