Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles
St. Philip was minding his own business in his hometown of Bethsaida when Jesus found him and called him: “Follow me!” (John 1:43). Philip, in turn, found Nathanael and invited him to meet Jesus: “Come and see!” (1:46). This account gives us a beautiful picture of the church’s activity throughout her history: Jesus calls us by his Word, and then we invite others to come and hear him and see him. According to church tradition, St. Philip evangelized in Scythia and Phrygia (modern-day Turkey) after the great dispersion recorded in Acts 8:1-2. It was there that he died a martyr’s death by crucifixion. May we always be echoing the invitation of St. Philip to others, that they might “come and see” and know Jesus as Lord.
The St. James we remember today is not James the brother of John and son of Zebedee (Mark 1:16-20), nor is this James the James who presided over the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. Rather, the James we honor today is James the Son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3). It is believed that this James’s mother was present at our Lord’s tomb (Luke 24:10). While the Scriptures don’t reveal much about this St. James, we do know that our Lord Jesus called him and sent him to do the work of witnessing (Acts 1:8). Church tradition holds that St. James traveled to southern Egypt, where he was martyred by being beaten to death. Now, martyrdom may never find us like it found St. James. But even so, Christ calls us to lose our lives for his sake—often in seemingly small and mundane ways. It is as Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die.”