The apostles commemorated on this day are among those about whom little is known, apart from what is written about them in the Gospels. Philip figures in several important incidents in Jesus’ ministry as recorded in John’s Gospel. Jesus called Philip soon after calling Andrew and Simon Peter, and Philip in turn found his friend Nathanael (sometimes identified with Bartholomew) and brought him to see Jesus, the Messiah. Later, when Jesus saw the hungry crowd, he asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (John 6:5). Philip’s pragmatic response, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little” (John 6:7), was the prelude to the feeding of the multitude with the loaves and fishes, a narrative in which Jesus is shown as the messianic king who feeds the people of God in the wilderness. In a later incident, some Greeks came to Philip (whose name is Greek), asking to see Jesus. At the Last Supper, Philip’s request, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us”, brought Jesus’ response, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8, 9).
According to tradition, Philip went after Pentecost to Scythia on the northern coast of the Black Sea to preach the Gospel with remarkable success, and then to Phrygia (in Asia Minor), where he remained until his death. He is said to have been crucified or stoned there in the town of Hierapolis. In the West he is represented in iconography by a Latin or a Tau cross, an emblem of his crucifixion, and by two loaves of bread, recalling the miracle of the feeding of the multitude.
James is traditionally known as James the Less to distinguish him from James the son of Zebedee and from James, the brother of the Lord, perhaps indicating youth or short stature. He is known to us from the list of the Twelve, where he is called James the son of Alphaeus. He may also the person referred to in Mark’s Gospel as James the younger, who, with Mary the mother of Jesus and the other women, watched the crucifixion from a distance.
James is iconographically depicted in the West with a saw with which he is held in some traditions to have been dismembered, or by a fuller’s club with which, according to other accounts, he was beaten to death.
Both apostles are commemorated on the same day because the church in Rome where their relics rest was dedicated on May 1, c. 560.
prepared from Lesser Feasts and Fasts
and The New Book of Festivals and Commemorations
Almighty God, who gave to your apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to the truth: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, *
and I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; *
I shall keep it with all my heart.
Make me go in the path of your commandments, *
for that is my desire.
Incline my heart to your decrees *
and not to unjust gain.
Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; *
give me life in your ways.
Fulfill your promise to your servant, *
which you make to those who fear you.
Turn away the reproach which I dread, *
because your judgments are good.
Behold, I long for your commandments; *
in your righteousness preserve my life.
2 Corinthians 4:1-6
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, 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 say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
The scripture texts for the Lesson, the Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible. The Collect and Psalm are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).