Monday, May 3, 2010

Feast Day of St. James and St. Philip

Today is the feast day of St. James and St. Philip. Who were they?

I will start with James because people often get him confused. The names James is a Hellenized form of the name Jacob, so it is not unusual to see many James at the time of Christ. The first James that we encounter is James the son of Zebedee, brother of John both Galilean fishermen ( see Mark 1:19 and Matthew 4:21). He and his brother John were called "sons of thunder" by Jesus because of their zeal. (Mark 3:17) They were appointed a part of the 12 Apostles who had a special relationship with Jesus. James was in the close circle of a trio of disciples who witness the raising of Jarius's' daughter(Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2), and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane(Matthew 26:37; Mark 14;32-33). He was the first Apostle to suffer martyrdom- he was beheaded at the command of King Agrippa I of Judea in 44 A.D.(Acts:12:2) He was also known as James the Greater (he was either older or taller) His feast day is July 25th.

The James whose feast day is today May 3rd is James "Brother of the Lord" (Matthew 13:55;Mark 6:3;Galatians 1:19). He was the brother of Joses, Simon, and Judas.(Mark 6:3) Paul writes that James had a personal encounter with the Risen Christ (1Corithinians 15:7) and later became the leader of the early Christian community in Jerusalem. His authority grew after Peter fled Jerusalem after escaping execution at the hands of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:2) James was also visited by Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 21:18) He was traditional known as the first Bishop of Jerusalem by Clement of Alexandria calls him that as recorded by Eusebius. He is also know as James the Lesser (either younger or shorter) Most scholars consider him the author of the New Testament Epistle of James.

Philip was one of the 12 Apostles (Acts 1:13; John 1: 43-51), he came from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. In John's Gospel Philip is present in several episodes - the feeding of the multitude (John 6:5-7), when some Greeks say they want to meet Jesus(John 12:21-23), at the Last Supper Discourse when Jesus says " Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me Philip."(John 14:8-9) Philip is ranked 5th in three different lists after the brothers Peter and Andrew, James and John. (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-16)

St. James and St. Philip Pray for us.

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