"Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring."
— St. Catherine of Siena
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"If you love God, lust has no place in your heart. Saint Augustine teaches that the sin of lust is like an iron chain that binds you fast, enslaving your will to perversity. When lust gains entry to your heart, it quickly takes root as a habit. If you don't resist and uproot it, that habit inevitably becomes necessary." — Patrick Madrid, p. 336 AN EXCERPT FROM A Year with the Bible, p336
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St. James the Lesser (Philip and James)
James, Son of Alphaeus: We know nothing of this man but his name, and of course the fact that Jesus chose him to be one of the 12 pillars of the New Israel, his Church. He is not the James of Acts, son of Clopas, "brother" of Jesus and later bishop of Jerusalem and the traditional author of the Letter of James. James, son of Alphaeus, is also known as James the Lesser to avoid confusing him with James the son of Zebedee, also an apostle and known as James the Greater.
Philip: Philip came from the same town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida in Galilee. Jesus called him directly, whereupon he sought out Nathanael and told him of the "one about whom Moses wrote" (John 1:45).
Like the other apostles, Philip took a long time coming to realize who Jesus was. On one occasion, when Jesus saw the great multitude following him and wanted to give them food, he asked Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat. St. John comments, "[Jesus] said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do" (John 6:6). Philip answered, "Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit]" (John 6:7).
John's story is not a put-down of Philip. It was simply necessary for these men who were to be the foundation stones of the Church to see the clear distinction between humanity's total helplessness apart from God and the human ability to be a bearer of divine power by God's gift.
On another occasion, we can almost hear the exasperation in Jesus' voice. After Thomas had complained that they did not know where Jesus was going, Jesus said, "I am the way...If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him" (John 14:6a, 7). Then Philip said, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us" (John 14:8). Enough! Jesus answered, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9a).
Possibly because Philip bore a Greek name or because he was thought to be close to Jesus, some Gentile proselytes came to him and asked him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip went to Andrew, and Andrew went to Jesus. Jesus' reply in John's Gospel is indirect; Jesus says that now his "hour" has come, that in a short time he will give his life for Jew and Gentile alike.
As in the case of the other apostles, we see in James and Philip human men who became foundation stones of the Church, and we are reminded again that holiness and its consequent apostolate are entirely the gift of God, not a matter of human achieving. All power is God's power, even the power of human freedom to accept his gifts. "You will be clothed with power from on high," Jesus told Philip and the others. Their first commission had been to expel unclean spirits, heal diseases, announce the kingdom. They learned, gradually, that these externals were sacraments of an even greater miracle inside their persons—the divine power to love like God.
"He sent them...so that as sharers in his power they might make all peoples his disciples, sanctifying and governing them.... They were fully confirmed in this mission on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:1–26) in accordance with the Lord's promise: 'You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me...even to the very ends of the earth' (Acts 1:8). By everywhere preaching the gospel (cf. Mark 16:20), which was accepted by their hearers under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the apostles gathered together the universal Church, which the Lord established on the apostles and built upon blessed Peter, their chief, Christ Jesus himself remaining the supreme cornerstone..." (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 19).
God is with me, but more, God is within me, giving me existence. Let me dwell for a moment on God's life-giving presence in my body, my mind, my heart and in the whole of my life.
I will ask God's help, to be free from my own preoccupations, to be open to God in this time of prayer, to come to know, love and serve God more.
I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them. Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment. I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.
The Word of God
Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles
Reading 1 1 Cor 15:1-8
I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that he appeared to James, then to all the Apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.
Responsorial Psalm PS 19:2-3, 4-5 R. (5) Their message goes out through all the earth. or: R. Alleluia. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day pours out the word to day; and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth. or: R. Alleluia. Not a word nor a discourse whose voice is not heard; Through all the earth their voice resounds, and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 14:6b, 9c R. Alleluia, alleluia. I am the way, the truth, and the life, says the Lord; Philip, whoever has seen me has seen the Father. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 14:6-14
Jesus said to Thomas, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? 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 speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Philip is one of the lesser known apostles. Slow of understanding, he elicits a gentle but somewhat exasperated rebuke from Jesus at the Last Supper, "Philip, have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me?" Philip was there from the beginning, the fourth of Jesus' apostles according to John. His call was special – whereas Andrew and John saw and followed Jesus, and Peter was brought to him by Andrew, Jesus "found Philip and said to him, 'Follow me'". Can I hear that call in my own life?
▪ Jesus sees not with human eyes but with the eyes of the Spirit. He looks, not at outward appearances, but at the heart. Lord, grant that I may look at my brothers and sisters with your eyes, as equally valuable and deeply lovable members of your earthly family.
Begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture you have just read. What part of it strikes a chord in you? Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story you have heard recently - will slowly rise to the surface of your consciousness. If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to you?
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
When you're applying for a job at a large company, it's pretty certain that you will have to deal with the human resources department. It can seem like a pretty ruthless process. There are hundreds of résumés to go through, so unless yours really stands out, it will likely get tossed out immediately. If you're lucky enough to make the cut, then you have to compete with the other top candidates. If you were to survive all that, you would definitely be feeling blessed!
When we hear Jesus saying, "No one comes to the Father except through me," we may be tempted to think he is like that human resources manager (John 14:6). We picture him standing with his arms crossed, weeding out those who don't have what it takes to get to heaven. But look at Philip, one of the saints whose feast we celebrate today. He didn't get everything right away. He didn't understand how Jesus was going to feed five thousand people with just a little bread and a couple of fish. And in today's passage, he asks Jesus to show him the Father—after having spent three years hearing him talk about his Father!
It's a good thing for Philip—and for us—that we don't have to qualify for a position to follow the Lord. You're family, not an employee! Instead of standing with his arms closed, Jesus has them opened wide. He is always happy to embrace us and bring us to his Father.
Do you worry sometimes that God might reject you or that he might pass you by because you're not good enough? Then today's passage is for you! Do you worry that you haven't done enough to win his approval or to merit heaven? This passage is for you as well. Jesus is the way, not your hard work. It's true that no one comes to the Father except through him. But it's also true that he brings everyone to the Father who comes to him. He excludes no one. Not Philip. Not James. And certainly not you!
"Thank you, Jesus, for offering to bring me to the Father. Here I am, Lord. Let me know his presence and his love."
Today's 1st Holy Scripture began with "I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the Gospel I preached to you". As I was talking about faith with an uncle this morning, I began to think of my holy Confession this past weekend. Because, feelings of "preaching" and doing are quite different things. It's when I put my preaching into action that faith becomes alive. If I preach mercy, I better be giving mercy and receiving mercy. If I preach giving, I better be giving and letting people give. Because we have to remember how we live and who we live for, and for us CHRISTians, being a Christ follower means that we belong to Jesus, the King, and our Father.
We prayed the Holy Psalms today "Their message goes out through all the earth". Who's message? For sure the Apostles' message and for sure the saints...but did you know God created you a saint? Holy is how we are created, because we are created in His image. Keep this in mind as we read what the Lord our Father is going to say to us today. And for crying out loud, keep spreading the message and bringing it before self and others, that Christ is the answer, and He is everything:
In comes the Lord of our lives today "I am the way and the truth and the life." Confused in life?
Hurt in life? Don't feel you are alive? Read the Words of Our Father again "I AM the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE". He said "No one comes to the Father except through me." Anyone who tries to go around the Lord is a thief and a robber. Jesus is holiness, Jesus is righteousness, therefore, HE is the Only Way. He said: "If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him", these words are deep, everything He says is shallow enough to wade, and deep enough to explore for centuries. Spend more time getting to know Him. This of course will mean spending more time with Him. As I was meditating before writing to you, I recalled how I was in a huge city this weekend, thousands upon thousands of people on the streets where I was, when we walk into the beautiful church of St Mary's, it was practically empty, and the line to confessionals was empty. It's as if I had traveled hundreds of miles and among thousands of people to be called to sit with the Father who was waiting, alone, in a little room, and I had to sit face to face and face the music of the atrocities of my life. This is the Way everybody. This is the Truth we must face. This is the life we are called to live. If you know your priest is alone in confessionals (and most are), why don't you go visit your Father? I asked my uncle if he had confessed and he replied "oh yes, every day I confess to our Lord" and I said, but what about confessing to the priest? I don't know that I got a direct answer, but the reason I even asked is because he said he was puking up black stuff, darkness from within it seemed to me. And the lines to confessions are invisible. If you are a priest reading this, invite your children to come see you more often. Catholics, go see your Father. This priest I went to said to go more often to confession (I had said it'd been a month or two since my last). He said I needed to be more spiritually fit for the battle. There are demons latching on to the weak. This is how demons are invited into your life to stay, by being caught off guard, in weakness, in spiritual laziness brought about by not working out. St. James said "faith without works is dead". If I preach and do nothing, then nothing is what I receive.
I hear you call my name, Lord, and I am moved within me. Your Spirit stirs my deepest self. Sing your songs in me. Jesus, Jesus, you are my Lord. Jesus, Jesus, you are the way.
Can you hear the Lord calling your name? Are you moved deep within? Is His spirit stirring you? Is He the LORD of your life?
Because we have a tendency to make Him a "part" of our lives, but not ALL of our lives. The Father wants to see the Father working in our lives. I want to see the Father working in your life. You may see the Father working in mine, but I want to see it happening in YOUR life.
This is the great adventure, as we venture to Him. This is the Holy Spirit we are leading to in Pentecost. The Spirit causes things to stir. The Holy Spirit causes love to be put into action and not a thought, or as a phrase but as a Way and Life, and that is the TRUTH we are to face and Live in Love with...JESUS