3 May, Tuesday – Obedience

May 3 – Feast of Sts. Philip and James, Apostles

St. Philip was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, and a convert. He was one of the Twelve Apostles, and brought St. Nathanael to Christ. He was a confidant of Jesus. Little is known about him, but scriptural episodes give the impression of a shy, naive, but practical individual. He preached in Greece and Asia Minor, and died a martyr for the faith.

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St. James the Lesser was the cousin of Jesus, and brother of St. Jude Thaddeus. He was raised in a Jewish home of the time, with all the training in Scripture and Law that was part of that life. He was a convert, and one of the Twelve Apostles. He was one of the first to have visions of the risen Christ.

He was the first bishop of Jerusalem. He met with St. Paul the Apostle to work out Paul’s plans for evangelization. He supported the position that Gentile converts did not have to obey all Jewish religious law, though he continued to observe it himself as part of his heritage. He may have been a vegetarian. He was a just and apostolic man known for his prayer life and devotion to the poor.

He was martyred for his faith in c.62 when he was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem, and then stoned and beaten with clubs while praying for his attackers. Having been beaten to death, a club almost immediately became his symbol, leading to his patronage of fullers and pharmacists, both of whom use clubs in their professions.

He is reported to have spent so much time in prayer that his knees thickened, and looked like a camel’s. Soon after the Crucifixion, James said he would fast until Christ returned; the resurrected Jesus appeared to him, and fixed a meal for James Himself.

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1 Cor 15:1-8
Jn 14:6-14

“After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at once”

It is thought that St Paul’s letters to the Corinthians were written between 53-57AD. Here, St Paul tells us that he is handing down what was handed to him by Our Lord himself. Then he makes 2 points — that the death and resurrection of Jesus were in accordance with the scriptures, and that there were eyewitnesses. In the 40 days between Our Lord’s resurrection and ascension, He appeared to the apostles and the women of Jerusalem a few times; and at one time, to 500 brothers and sisters.

It seems like the point here is that this was a historical event. There were eyewitnesses to attest to the fact that a man was scourged and left on a cross to die, they saw the lifeless body carried down and laid in a tomb and then some time after that, they saw this man walk, talk and eat. It is also to be noted that St Paul’s letter, being dated 50+ years after the events took place, in the context of historical accuracy, is remarkably close to the event. There are more well-believed rumours around that were written hundreds of years after the event in question.

Today, as we celebrate the 2 pillars of the church, I’d like to reflect on the simple obedience they had, along with the other 10. What if they did it their way instead of Jesus’ way? Or what if Jesus did it his way instead of the Father’s way? I think the Church wouldn’t exist, let alone this blog. Obedience was key and is still key today. I’m sure many of us have faced issues in ministry and community life. Single out one example that comes to mind and apply obedience to the situation and most of the time, there would not have been an issue.

If we believe in the power and working of the Holy Spirit and if we seek to do God’s will, and not ours, then let us all obey the authority God has placed over us in loving humility, get out of the way, and watch as things fall into place. I dare say we’ll be attending less long-winded meetings if we were a little more obedient. St Paul talks about handing down what he received. It has been handed down all the way to us because he obeyed the command of God for him. Let us receive (from our authority) and keep God’s commandment of spreading the good news.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Daryl De Payva)

Prayer: Father, just as Apostolic succession continues unbroken in our Church, may that anointing continue to flow down to our time and let us be obedient channels to keep this unbroken succession going.

Thanksgiving: I thank you Lord, for the people whose prayers have brought me here and in turn, I offer up the merits of this day for all of them, whoever they may be.

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