May 3: Feast of the Apostles Philip and James

There are several moments in the Acts of the Apostles when the Apostles and other disciples of the Lord face harassment, trial, and other disappointments. But Acts reports that their response was: they “could not but be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” This kind of response teaches us a lesson we continually need to learn.  The “living of the Gospel,” in spite of its message of love, forgiveness, and justice and its rejection of all forms of violence, can incur strong and persistent opposition.  We should neither be surprised nor discouraged at this. On the contrary, like the Apostles (including Saints Philip and James), we should rejoice that, with Jesus, we will always suffer (in big or small ways) for proclaiming the message of life and love. Jesus Himself said: “Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of righteousness.” (Matt 5,10)

With regard to today’s Feastday: as in the case of the other Apostles, we see in Saints Philip and James human men who became foundation stones of the Church, and we are reminded again that holiness and its consequent “mission” 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. Saints Philip and James, pray for us.

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