Phillip and James come across as two of the most ordinary apostles: quite unlike the headstrong Peter, the faithful Andrew, the endearing John, the reformed Matthew, or the treacherous Judas, for example. James, in posterity (hopefully!) came to be known as “James, the Lesser.” Philip, in today’s gospel, just doesn’t seem to “get it”; you can almost hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice when he sighs “have I been with you so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?”
Together these unsung heroes remind us that maybe the point of encountering Jesus through the Gospels is less about “getting” him and more about giving him away. Which is what makes Philip and James apostles par excellence! “Apostle” means “messenger” and all too often the personality of the messenger all but drowns out the message. Would that we be faithful messengers of the author of the Good News, Jesus! Would that we become “lesser” for the greater glory of God!
—Fr. Charles Rodrigues, S.J., Associate Novice Director at the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Alberto Hurtado, St. Paul, MN. For more information on Jesuit vocations, click here.