3 May [Sts Philip and James, apostles]
Jesus said, “If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
Philip put words on the deepest and the universal human aspiration: to see God. In ancient times Moses said to God (Exod 33:18ff), “Show me your glory, I beg you.” And God replied, “I will let all my splendour pass in front of you...but you cannot see my face. Human beings cannot see me and live.... You must stand on the rock and when my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with my hand while I pass by. Then I will take my hand away and you shall see the back of me; but my face is not to be seen.”
But now in a new age, Jesus says to Philip, “Whoever sees me sees the Father.” Jesus is the face of God turned to us. We see God in him, to the very limit of our seeing. In John's gospel, Philip was the first person to whom Jesus said, “Follow me!” (Jn 1:45). It was somehow appropriate that it should be to Philip that Jesus made this profound revelation.
James, the other apostle whose feast is today, was kin to Jesus. He may well have been among the members of the family who didn't believe in him (Jn 7:5, “his brothers spoke like this because they didn't believe in him”). But, if so, he changed radically: James appears in Acts as the leader of the Christians in Jerusalem.
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