A note that the written message here is slightly different to that presented in the audio 🙂
Hi and welcome to The Word Down Under; I’m Brother Brenden coming to you from the Oratory of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary a ministry of the Unified Old Catholic Church in Australia.
Today we take a break from the weekdays simply marked as occurring in the Easter Season and we get to spend some time celebrating the Feast of two of Christ’s Apostles; St Phillip and St James. For those of you who listened to Saturday’s inaugural episode of Saturday with the Saints will be aware of the some of the information regarding these two Apostles of the Lord.
We know very little about St James from the Bible other than his name, that he was called by Jesus and that he was the son of Alpheus. Pious tradition tells us that he was a Martyr for the faith in Jerusalem after refusing to scorn the message of Christ and deny the resurrection. As for St Philip, the biblical record is a little fuller and we see his name crop up a number of times, including in the Gospel reading for today. As with St James tradition tells us that Philip was a Martyr for the faith and was crucified upside down. It’s common thought that these two saints share a feast day because they are both Apostles of Jesus however, we celebrate the lives of these two men today because it was at this time of year that they’re relics were transferred to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Rome at this time of year.
As I said earlier the reading from the Gospel set for today features St Philip and I’d love to share it with you now. If you want to follow along the reading is found in the Gospel of John, Chapter 14 beginning at verse 6:
Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
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 speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.
And whatever you ask in my name, I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”
Wow, let me just say that this passage is jam packed full of messages for us to unpack today! The passage starts out with Jesus making a real definitive statement about salvation and how we obtain it: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” What does this mean for us? To me it’s really plain and simple; there is no way for anyone on the earth; past, present or future to get to the Father (in this life or the next) without accepting Jesus.
Now, it may come as no surprise to you that I travel in circles that like to discuss theology and the trends that we see occurring. To some of my friends it has become increasingly clear in recent years that many in the Christian community have started to change their minds about evangelism and the purpose of the Gospel. Just recently a brother of mine in the Order of Preacher Independent shared with me information about a conference at the Virginia Theological Seminary where a Bishop and two other Clergy were talking about “…how the Gospel is not to convert non-members it is to go and be alongside non-members…” Now to me doesn’t this seem to contravene the very nature of the Gospel of Jesus?
Right here in today’s Gospel we see the Lord telling Thomas and others that the only way that we can get to know the Father and be received by him is through knowing Jesus. Now think for a minute and answer me this question: how are those who don’t know about Jesus, who have another faith, or no faith at all expected to find out about Jesus? To me the answer is simple…His disciples are meant to preach the Gospel of the Risen Lord and to kindle the hope of eternal life through Him in the hearts of others.
Now it’s not just my idea that this is what the Christian community are meant to do, I really don’t expect you to take my word at these things because I am only a man and I don’t claim to speak with any special authority from God. If we look to the Bible it doesn’t take us very long to find an explanation of what we, as disciples of Jesus are meant to do.
If we look in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 28 starting at verse 18 we read:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
These are the recorded word of the resurrected Jesus to his Apostles; he didn’t tell them to live alongside non-believers and hope that their example would rub off or that it didn’t really matter because all paths led to salvation so long as we are good people. Instead, Jesus told them that now that he was going they had to go out into the world and tell others about Him and his message and not only that. They were commanded to keep telling that message until the people believed, joined the Church, and came to obey everything that Christ had commanded.
And I want to say that I am 100% sure that this message hasn’t changed. St James and St Philip both died because they believed it was absolutely necessary to follow this commandment. In fact the tradition surrounding St James that I mentioned earlier tells us that he was asked to stand on the walls of the city and denounce Christ and that instead he preached the message of faith in Christ and the truth of the resurrection. For this he was pushed from the wall and then stoned to death.
The history of the Church is lettered with events like this, where men and women of faith have taken this command of Christ so seriously that they have laid down their lives in the spreading of the message of the only name that leads to eternal life; that of Jesus Christ!
There is so much more that we could talk about from today’s Gospel but I think in this day and age of religious pluralism where preaching the true faith has become politically incorrect and socially unacceptable it is so important that voices stand against this.
I want to emphatically, and with total faith and conviction say to you that I believe that the only way to be saved is to accept Christ as our saviour, to walk the Christian path by following His example and the example of His saints.
I hope that each and every one of you will remember that it is our sacred duty as followers of Christ to preach the Risen Lord and the message of love and salvation that he brought to the earth. We should strive with all that we have to preach through example and through word what we have found in Christ. It doesn’t take a degree or an ordination or a special commission to preach the Gospel. If you have been called to the Christian life through baptism you are a part of the great Army of Witnesses, the Church Militant and it is your duty, nay your privilege, to take this message to all of those around you.
Throughout this coming week know that I am going to keep all of my listeners in my prayers asking the Lord that we will all be able to follow the example of St James and St Philip; that we may be willing to speak of Christ no matter the costs and boldly proclaim that eternal life and salvation comes only through Christ!
I really do hope that the coming week is filled with peace and joy for you and that this message has been an inspiration to you. If you have any questions or prayers intentions please don’t hesitate to visit my Ministry at oratoryolhr.com or leave a comment on this message wherever you find it linked.
I hope that you’ll join me in a word of prayer:
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.
And until we meet again may the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.