Saturday, May 3, 2008

Feast Day of Saints James and Philip, Apostles and Martyrs

In addition to being the Celebration of the Ascension of Christ, May 1 was also the Feast Day of Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles of Christ. Just this week in our daily Scripture readings at the beginning of our homeschool days, we read the story in Acts of Philip and the Ethiopian, the first example (and I believe only) in Scripture of personal evangelism. What an example St. Philip gives us in Acts 8! As the Scriptures read in Acts 8:35: "Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture [from Isaiah] he told him [the Ethiopian] the good news about Jesus." The Saint James celebrated on this day with Philip is not Saint James the Greater, but James the son of Alphaeus, and we know little about him from the Scriptures.

The Collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Philip and Saint James:
O Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us perfectly to know thy Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life: that, following the steps of thy holy Apostles, Saint Philip and Saint James, we may steadfastly walk in the way that leadeth to eternal life; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The readings for today were James 1:1-12 and Saint John's Gospel 14:1-14. The words near the end of the passage from John stood out to me today when Father Acker, robed in the red of martyrs to remind us of their witness to Christ via their deaths, read them aloud in the service this morning:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and also greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

As the "Saint of the Day" e-mail from states:
"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."

May we all learn from, love, and serve Christ as Saints Philip and James modeled for us in the Scriptures.

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