Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles

Reading 1 (1 Cor. 15:1-8):

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters,
of the Gospel I preached to you,
which you indeed received and in which you also stand.
Through it you are also being saved,
if you hold fast to the word I preached to you,
unless you believed in vain.
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he was buried;
that he was raised on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
After that, he appeared to more
than five hundred brothers and sisters at once,
most of whom are still living,
though some have fallen asleep.
After that he appeared to James,
then to all the Apostles.
Last of all, as to one born abnormally,
he appeared to me.

Gospel (Jn. 14:6-14):

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."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: You are saved through the Gospel.

            Philip was born in Bethsaida, the same village with Peter and (Jn 1:44). He was also one of John Baptist’s disciples when John pointed to Christ and introduced: “Behold the lamb of God who takes way the sins of the world.” After calling Peter, Jesus met Philip and called him to be his disciples with a simple command, “Follow me!” Philip positively responded Jesus’ call; and after that, he introduced Nathanael (Batholomew) to Jesus so that he could become his disciples  (Jn 1:43-45). Philip belonged to the Twelve; his name was always listed the fifth, after Peter and Andrew, John and James (cf. Mt 10:2-4; Mk 3:14-19; Lk 6:13-16). The Fourth Gospel reported three events related to Philip (Jn 6:5-7; 12:21-23; and today passage 14:8-9). These three events give us a sketch of Philip: innocent, shy and little pessimistic.

            St. James whom we celebrated with Philip today was called by different names: James, son of Alpheus, to make a difference with James, son of Zebedee, John’s brother (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13); James the less, to differ with James the great (Mt 27:56); James, the Lord’s brother (Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3; Gal 1:19). No doubt that he also mentioned in the Letter to Galatians (2:2, 9; Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18; 1 Cor 15:7). He was the first bishop of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15 và 21), though some also denied this fact.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Jesus appeared to James, then with all apostles.

1.1/ Paul’s situation: He was a strict Pharisee, eager with the law, born in Tarsus, Cicilia and a tent maker. He was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christ’s followers. The reason for his persecution was that he believed only the Jews are deserved of God’s salvation by carefully keeping the ancestral law. He didn’t have a direct contact with Christ, only through others’ accusation. He saw Christ and his followers as the enemies who threatened Judaism.

            The event that happened on Paul’s way to Damascus completely changed his life. He felt from his horse by a strong light from heaven, was blinded and heard Christ’s voice to let him know that he is the one whom Paul was persecuting. Then, he was sent to Ananias, a Jesus’ disciple, to be healed and given the mission of preaching the Good News, specially to the Gentiles.

1.2/ Paul’s experience: When Paul reflected on that event, Paul felt he was completely undeserved with Christ’s love. First, he was Christ’ dangerous enemy because he was persecuting his followers; but Christ didn’t kill him, he also healed his blindness, both physically and spiritually. He let Paul know the truth about God’s mysteries which he was confused before that event. Secondly, he gave him the priviledge to be his apostle. Paul confessed, “I am the least among the apostles, unworthy to be called as such, because I persecuted God’s Church.” Lastly, he bestowed on Paul all grace to help him to fulfill his vocation: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God (that is) with me” (1 Cor 15:10).

1.3/ Paul fulfilled his mission: In his missionary journey to preach the Gospel, Paul met many oppositions from both the faithful and the Jews. The faithful couldn’t believe Paul, an ardent persecutor, be a preacher of the gospel. The jealous Jews accused Paul of preaching a wrong doctrine. They gave the reason for this wrong preaching because Paul didn’t belong to the Twelve so he couldn’t fathom Christ’s teachings.

            In today passage, Paul highlighted the important doctrine which people must believe to inherit salvation: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Kephas, then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.” All witnessed the same things. Paul concluded, “Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Cor 15:11).

2/ Gospel: “Whoever sees me, sees the Father.”

2.1/ Jesus and the Father are one: No one has ever seen God; but when people see Jesus they see the Father, as Paul said: “He is the image of invisible God” (Col 1:15). In the dialogue between Jesus and Philip, Jesus also confirmed this. When Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered 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'?” Jesus wanted to show Philip two things:

            (1) Jesus is the Father’s word: "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."

            (2) Jesus’ works are according to Father’s will: "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." No one can do Jesus’ works if God wasn’t with him.

2.2/ The apostles can do what Jesus did and greater work than that: Jesus declared: “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.”

            (1) What Jesus did, such as: preaching the Good News, expelling demons, raising the dead, forming future disciples, etc; the apostles could do all these in Christ’s name, not according to their own effort. They clearly knew that they had no power to do these things. Jesus’ words to them guaranteed these thing: “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.”

            (2) The “greater works than these” is to help all people to believe in Christ to inherit salvation. To achieve this, Jesus needs human cooperation.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We need to carefully studied Christ’s Good News before we can preach it to everyone. If there were any contradiction, we must humbly search for and correct them according to the truth.

            - We have a duty to preach the Good News for all people. We must fulfill this duty above other duties in our life.

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