Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Homily Feast of Saints Philip and James (Apostles) - Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily Feast of Saints Philip and James (Apostles) - Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Reading; 1 Cor 15:1-8; Ps 19:2-5 and John 14:6-14

Called to bear witness like Philip and James (Apostles/apostoloi)

I think it is quite providential that I was requested by Christian to be the presider at this Mass, on the Feast day of Saints Philip and James.

Quite providential! Philip and James are patron saints of my native- home diocese. We have always have this tradition after every priestly ordination, the newly ordained would bless the Bishop, and the community using the following formula,

“Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Holy Apostles, Philip and James may the blessings of Almighty God the Father , Son and the Holy Spirit come upon you and remain with you , both now and forever, Amen."

I did the same in 1995, after my priestly ordination,  on October 7th, the Feast of the Holy Rosary.

When I think about these two Apostles and in the light of bible readings of today, I see in them holy men, with great, missionary in zeal, chosen to be part of the inner circle of Jesus, “to follow” Jesus akolouqew/ein). Particularly attractive in Philip is his role earlier on in the Gospel, I think in John 1:44 we see how he introduced Bartholomew/Nathanael, his friends to Christ. He said to Nathaniel, “Come and see.” As time goes on Christ would even remind Philip himself to believe that “who ever has seen him has seen the Father” (John 14:6-14).

James, a cousin of Christ does the same. He did not shy away from his responsibility to keep faith in the Jerusalem Church (Gal 1:18-19; Acts 12:17) and was privileged to experience the resurrection of Christ, which Paul testifies in the 1st reading. Both died because they bore witness to Christ, beginning from their relatives.

It was interesting to witness yesterday the “Rite of Sending” here in our Seminary Community, a day before the Feast of Saints Philip and James- the Apostles- aposte,llw/lein- “to send” . In our various capacities we want to be able to imitate Philip and James- to be encouraging to one another here in matters of faith, not only from the pulpit, but on the hall way, class rooms, offices name them! And also allow ourselves to be sent, to go out there, “through all the earth” (Ps 19:5) and bear witness with words and deed. Not keeping the truth to ourselves, but invites others, our friends- be missionaries to ourselves, our relatives, family members, brothers and sisters, invite them to come and see Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.