Today we celebrate a double feast – that of Saints Philip and James. We hear about the two brothers in the gospels. Philip comes across as someone who is puzzled by what Jesus says but eager to understand. He asks simple but revealing questions of Jesus. He tells Jesus ‘Show us the Father and we shall be satisfied’
Like all the other Apostles, except John, Philip and James die martyrs’ deaths. This fact is quite staggering when we see how the disciples all forsook Jesus and fled when he was arrested. And also how they were terrified of suffering the same fate after his crucifixion.
So how come the transformation? The answer lies in the great 50 days we are celebrating now – Easter, the resurrection of Christ.
The gospel writers strain to explain the reality, experience, and meaning of the resurrection. The rest of the New Testament writers are equally challenged and challenging. But several key point emerge. One is that the disciples, like Philip and James, were so convinced of the reality of the resurrection that they were prepared to die rather than deny it. They knew that death had been destroyed by Jesus. They were confident that they shared in his new, risen life.
Down through the ages until our own day men and women have shown that same confidence. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.