Readings: 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Ps. 19:2-5, John 14:6-14

“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and will do greater works than these because I am going to the Father. If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

As little kids, we sang: “We are soldiers. We are soldiers for the Lord. In the name of Jesus, we shall conquer.” We even made funny poses while singing but never asked ourselves what this song meant. We say we are soldiers of Christ, but we say “God forbid” the slightest discomfort for Christ’s sake. We sing about being soldiers of Christ, yet all we want is the comforts and luxuries of life. We claim to be soldiers but run from pillar to post, seeking quick answers and solutions when the going gets tough. As soldiers of Christ, let us ask ourselves: “What is my Christian faith costing me?”

Today, we celebrate two gallant soldiers of Christ, Saints Philip and James, who fought not with guns and armoured tanks but with righteous deeds and the proclamation of the Gospel. Philip and James fought to defend the Christian Faith to their last breath, willingly offering their lives for the convictions they held dearly. Philip was born at Bethsaida and started as a disciple of John the Baptist. After the Baptist’s death, he followed Christ. James, the son of Alphaeus, is called “James the Less” to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee. James, “the brother of the Lord”, ruled the Church at Jerusalem, wrote an epistle, led an austere life and converted many Jews to the Faith. He was crowned with martyrdom in the year 62. In reflecting on their lives, some lessons stand out:

1. God Does Not Call The Qualified: God does not call those who think they are perfect; rather, He qualifies those who make themselves available. None of the twelve apostles was perfect. Nevertheless, they were willing to ask questions, willing to learn, and willing to grow. For instance, in today’s Gospel passage, Philip was not ashamed of revealing his ignorance and confusion. He said: “Lord, show us the Father, and then we shall be satisfied.” Jesus asked Philip: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me?” Like all other apostles, Philip ate and drank with Jesus for three years but did not know Jesus. In Matthew 16, at Caesarea Philippi, when Jesus asked the twelve about his identity, only Peter answered correctly, yet Jesus acknowledged that flesh and blood had not revealed that to him. You don’t have to be perfect to say “Yes” to God’s call. All you need is an open heart and a willingness to learn.

2. Faith in God Transforms: Another shining quality of Saints Philip and James was their deep faith, expressed in their actions. Faith keeps us going regardless of the difficulties we encounter. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14). As soldiers of Christ, our greatest weapon is our faith. Believe that with God, that all things are possible. Like Philip and James, you might not be perfect, but as long as you have faith, you will do even greater works than Christ did.

3. Never Bend the Truth: In today’s first reading, St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, asks them to hold fast to the Gospel and never bend from it. In other words, as soldiers of Christ, we must be careful of false doctrines which could mislead us. St. Paul sums up the Gospel in very simple terms: “Christ died for our sins following the scriptures, he was buried, and raised on the third day following the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). St. Paul Paul is convinced that after the resurrection of Jesus, He appeared to people following a hierarchy of importance. First, Jesus appeared to Peter, then to the twelve, then to a group of about five thousand believers before appearing to James, and last, of all, to Paul. Never bend the truth; Jesus is alive and always ready to defend his soldiers. As we celebrate St. Philip and James today, we pray that God will continue to inspire labourers for His vineyard.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, help me to think less of myself and more of you in responding to your call. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

Remember, amid all challenges, choose to be happy. Live with a positive mindset and believe in God’s plan for you. God bless you abundantly. (Saints Philip and James, Apostles - Feast. Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Ps. 19:2-5, John 14:6-14).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu