Detail of the Maestà altarpiece by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308, via Wikipedia.
Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles
May 1, 2017
Some of the apostles are named in pairs on their day of commemoration. Simon and Jude are an example along with today’s candidates, Philip and James. Presumably this is because there is not enough information about them to warrant a day all to oneself. We trust they take no offense, especially when one notices that Peter is named on more than one day. I also assume the manner in which one is remembered on the ecclesiastical calendar does not cause arguments in Paradise at the same level of who will sit at Jesus’ right and on his left; although I think overhearing any apostolic banter on the subject might be fun. You know, being human and all.
We do have an occasion in the fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel appointed for this Feast where we get a glimpse of one of the exchanges between Philip and Jesus. There are other poignant moments recorded between the two. Interestingly, each one of these conversations triggers an important moment of teaching by our Lord. This one occurs at the Last Supper as Jesus prepares the disciples for his leaving by revealing the essence of his relationship with the Father. Philip says to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus responds with some measure of apparent incredulity, “You have been with me all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?”
When singing in a choir in high school, there was a day when our director had us lean back into the chest of one another in our section to feel the resonance of our voice vibrating through the other. It really was amazing as we not only experienced the voice of the other blending with and supporting our own, we also began to breathe together in a way where we became one voice. That exercise transformed a group of singers with a well-intentioned commonality of purpose, good in itself, into a magical expression of a single breathing organism. As a choir we were never the same.
Jesus’ relationship with God is one of unity of being. The life of prayer is one where we are invited by the Spirit of Christ to lean into him and know the possibility of a unitive experience ourselves. When this miracle occurs, by grace, our voices become one. We begin to breathe as God breathes and when we lift our hearts to the Lord, we discover our hearts beginning to realize a syncopation with the very heart of God in God’s hope for all creation.
Jesus was telling Philip that to know him was to know God and God’s heart-desire for the world. It is a world where because of Jesus’ death and resurrection we are called to do the work that Jesus did and “…in fact, will do greater works.” May we never limit, in word or action, the reach of his embrace.
Bishop Skip Adams
The Right Reverend Gladstone B. Adams III was elected and invested as our Bishop on September 10, 2016. Read more about him here.