We celebrate the two Apostles who are mentioned in the First Reading and Gospel. The St James we celebrate is James the Less or Son of Alpheus whom St Jerome also opines as the cousin of Jesus. St Philip was confused at some point with Philip the Deacon in Acts but is a different person than the one mentioned in Acts.
According to St Paul in the First Reading, Jesus appeared to James first before appearing to the Apostles. St Paul’s narration of this event is not mentioned in any of the Gospels. This James was later appointed as the Bishop of Jerusalem who presided over the Council of Jerusalem. The Gospel narrates how Philip did not understand the relationship of Jesus and his Father. In response, Jesus asks him: have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? This question is also directed at all believers. We will never know Jesus fully, not in this life. But what is important is not full knowledge of Jesus, but acceptance of who he is.
Love is not fully understanding the other person. It is accepting the other person even if we do not understand them. It is allowing the other person to be who they are, giving ourselves fully to them. In the case of our relationship with our brothers, it is also hoping they will come to live as we give our lives to them and for them. With God though, we do not hope God will change, because God will never change. In relation to God, we are the ones who should change. Our ideas of God need to change so we can accept him as he is and let him be God of our lives.
Tradition says Philip went to Greece, Syria and Phrygia and was martyred in Hierapolis through crucifixion. He continued to preach from his cross until he died.
James and Philip were Apostles, called at different times by the Lord. Yet, they preached the same message, as Paul wrote in the First Reading: Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. The message is consistent, that we sin, and Christ died according to Scripture. He was buried, but rose from the dead.
This is the Gospel we need to preach. All other teachings of the Church should conform to this message. This is why we need to preach repentance, a turning away from sin towards Christ, so that we can receive the salvation won by Christ for us.
Lord, teach us to remain faithful to your Word. Never let us stray from your Truth. Teach us to be faithful to your Gospel.