LEARN FROM THE APOSTLES
The original twelve Apostles are to be greatly admired. They were among the first to answer Jesus’ call, aside from Mary and Joseph, and spent the most time with Him, learning from God firsthand what it means to be truly human. Thus, from the Apostles, we can learn many lessons and many examples of virtue. We can also learn from their mistakes and struggles.
We hope you enjoy this resource and are inspired by it to follow the example of the Apostles in their love and faithfulness to Christ.
The account of when Jesus called Saint Phillip to follow him can be found in Sacred Scripture in John 1:43,
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”
In the Scriptural lists of the 12 apostles, Saint Philip always comes fifth, which leads us to understand that he was among the first. Jesus had just called St. Peter and St. Andrew to follow him the day before he went to Galilee, where he called Phillip to follow him.
“The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Phillip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’” – John 1:23
St. Philip the Apostle is mentioned in the Bible mostly in the Gospel of John. John 1:43 tells of when he is called by Jesus. John 1:45-51 tells of when Philip found Nathaniel and invited him to meet Jesus;
Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
Saint Philip is also mentioned when Jesus feeds the five thousand (John 6:1-15), at the Last Supper (John 14:7-14), and in the upper room before the descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-3).
It is a likely tradition that Saint Philip was a follower of John, and present when John said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God.” His call came shortly afterwards, when Jesus encountered Him while returning to Galilee from the Jordan Valley.
“Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ …Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? “ – John 14:8, 10
Although the place, date, and cause of Saint Philip’s death are uncertain, one tradition holds that he was martyred and died a torturous death. In a Catechesis at a General Audience that Pope Benedict XVI gave on Philip the Apostle, he commented,
According to certain later accounts (Acts of Philip and others), our Apostle is said to have evangelized first Greece and then Frisia, where he is supposed to have died, in Hierapolis, by a torture described variously as crucifixion or stoning.
It is important to mention that 2nd century books, such as the Acts of Philip, while attributed to the Apostle are not recognized by the Church as genuinely his, nor inspired by God.
Saint Philip is known to be the patron saint of hatters, pastry chefs, and bakers due to his interaction with Jesus during the feeding of the five thousand, as recounted in the Gospel of John 6:4-11.
Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.
Philip had not yet known what the Son of Man could do. After this miracle, Philip was able to witness the power of God.
“When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer…” – Acts 1:13-14
Saint James and his brother Jude were called to the apostleship in the second year of Christ's preaching, soon after the Passover of that year.
Though St. James the Less is not mentioned very often in Scripture, accounts of James can be found in the New Testament, mostly listed with the other Apostles (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, and Acts 1:13).
Both James the Greater and James the Lesser, whose feast day this is, were apostles of Jesus. James the Great was the brother of John, a son of Zebedee, and called at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. James the Less, however, was the brother of the Apostle Jude (also known as Thaddeus), and a son of Alphaeus. He was called later than James the son of Zebedee and this may be the reason for the appellation Lesser. Others suggest it may be due to his stature or age. Whatever the truth, there is nothing lesser about the way he died as Bishop of Jerusalem, stoned to death for his faith in Christ.
Jesus of Nazareth was the only child of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Just as the Tablets of the Law, precursor of the Word, had their own precious vessel, the Ark, the Theotokos (God-bearer) was the precious ark reserved for the Word-made-Flesh, and Him alone.
Scripture is clear, the mother of James, the son of Alphaeus (Mt. 10:13), stood near the Cross (Mt. 27:56) and went to the Tomb with Magdalene (Lk. 24:10). She is clearly not the same woman as the mother of Jesus, who was given into the care of the Apostle John by the Lord.
Saint James the Less, therefore, was not a blood brother of Jesus, but a close relative. This is consistent with the usages of Scripture for “adelphos” which can be a blood brother, a close relative, such as cousin, and even simply a member of the same tribe or people, such as a fellow Hebrew. In the same way today, in both the Church and the world, to call someone “brother” or “sister” is not limited to one’s siblings, but manifests a kinship of race, creed or shared experience.
Tradition holds that James, sometimes known as the Just, was Bishop of Jerusalem and was martyred after declaring his faith before the Sanhedrin, or great council, of the Jews. According to Jewish historian, Josephus, he was summoned to answer accusations that he violated the Law. Josephus said he was then delivered to the people to be stoned to death.
Hegesippus (another early writer of the Church), adds that St. James took that opportunity to declare his belief in Jesus Christ. Scribes and Pharisees, enraged at this testimony on behalf of Jesus, cried out: "The just man has also erred." And going up to the battlements, they threw him headlong down to the ground, saying, "He must be stoned." St. James, though very much bruised by his fall, had strength enough to get up on his knees, and in this posture, lifting up his eyes to heaven, begged of God to pardon his murderers, seeing that they knew not what they did. The rabble below received him with showers of stones, and at last, a fuller gave him a blow on the head with his club, such as is used in dressing of cloths, after which he presently expired. This happened on the festival of the Pasch, the 10th of April, in the year of Christ 62. He was buried near the temple, in the place in which he was martyred, where a small column was erected.
“Thus, St. James’ Letter shows us a very concrete and practical Christianity. Faith must be fulfilled in life, above all, in love of neighbor and especially in dedication to the poor. It is against this background that the famous sentence must be read: ‘As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.’” – Pope Benedict, XVI
Videos About Sts. Philip and James
Saint James the Lesser is most commonly known to be the patron saint of hatmakers (along with Saint Philip), pharmacists, and Uruguay.
How did Jesus choose His Apostles?
In the Gospel of Luke, we learn that Jesus prayed before choosing and commissioning His disciples. The details are found in all three Synoptic Gospels. We can read about it in Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-19, and Luke 6:13-16. The most extensive account of the commissioning of the Twelve Apostles is in Mark’s gospel. In this gospel, Mark accounts, “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.”
The word “disciple” is from the Latin word discipulus and means one who is a student of another. This is also expressed by the fact that those who came to learn from the Lord about the Kingdom of God called Him Rabbi (Jn. 1:49), Master (Lk. 5:5) and Teacher (Mk. 4:38), even those who tried to trick Him (cf. Mt. 22:24).
Not all disciples, however, are “apostles”, from the Greek word apostolos, meaning messenger. While an apostle, in a general sense, is anyone who takes what is learned and spreads the message to others, in Scripture it refers only to the “Twelve.” These Apostles were specificslly commissioned by Christ to go out and spread the Good News (Mt. 28:18-20) to the ends of the earth. Their ministry continues to this day, through the bishops appointed to pastor Christ’s flock until He comes again.