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Commentary from 




Rivingtons, London, 1884



[MAY 1.]

In the Lectionary of St. Jerome and the Sacramentary of St. Gregory the names of these two Apostles are associated together as they are in the Latin and English Churches of modern times: and the day of the Festival is in both cases the same as that now observed. But in the Eastern Church St. Philip's day is November 14th, and St. James' day October 23rd. It will also be observed that the Apostle St. Philip alone is named for May 1st in the ancient Calendar of the Venerable Bede, printed in a previous page; and in some early Calendars of the English Church, June 22nd is dedicated to "Jacobus Alfei."

The Epistle for the day in the Eastern Church is the same portion of Scripture that was read for the Second Morning Lesson in our own Church until 1661: but it seems clear that the Philip there mentioned is Philip the Deacon, since St. Peter and St. John were sent to Samaria to confirm those whom he had baptized, which would not have been necessary in the case of an Apostle. It is curious to observe that the same error should have occurred in both the Eastern and the English Church; but there seems to have been much confusion among the ancients between St. Philip the Apostle and Philip the Deacon and Evangelist, arising out of a generally received opinion that the former was married [Euseb. v. 24], while it is recorded of the latter in Acts xxi. 9 that he had "four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy."

St. Philip was one of the first of our Lord's disciples, and is thought to have accompanied Him for some time while St. Andrew and St. Peter had returned to their occupation of fishing after their first call. It may have been this faithful companionship which led to the loving rebuke of our Lord recorded in the Gospel of the day, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip?" For the Apostle's zeal in bringing Nathanael and the Greeks to his Master appears to indicate a trained faith in the Person of the holy Jesus, as does even his aspiration, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us!"

In the account of the miracle of the loaves and fishes St. Philip also seems to have been specially under the loving eye of his Master, who sought to "prove him" before He tried the faith of the others. After the dispersion of the Apostles, St. Philip carried Christ and the Church to Northern Asia, and his name has also been connected with the early Church of Russia. St. Chrysostom and Eusebius both record that he was crucified and stoned on the cross, at Hierapolis, a great stronghold of idolatry, in Phrygia; and the tradition of the Church is, that his martyrdom took place immediately after he had procured by his prayers the death of a great serpent which was worshipped by the people of the city.

St. James the Less was son of Alphaeus, or Cleophas, and of Mary, and nephew to Joseph the husband of the Blessed Virgin. Hence he was, in the genealogical phraseology of the Jews, a "brother of our Lord," as is shown in the table at page 79. It was also thought by the ancients that his mother Mary was cousin, or as the Hebrews would say "sister," to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and this would establish a double legal affinity between James and Joses, her sons, and the holy Jesus. St. James the Less is mentioned by Josephus and in the Talmud, being well known to the Jews from his position as Apostle of the Church of Jerusalem up to the beginning of its last troubles: and having won even from them the name of "the just," a name shadowing that of his Master, so often called "the Righteous" in the Psalms. It is he whose name is several times mentioned by St. Paul; and he was the writer of the Catholic Epistle of St. James. He went to his rest by martyrdom [a.d. 62], in Jerusalem, being thrown down from a pinnacle or wing of the Temple by some of the persecuting Scribes and Pharisees, and slain, as he lay bruised on the ground below, with a fuller's club.

The only reason that can be suggested for coupling together St. Philip and St. James is, that by thus doing the manner in which our Lord sent forth His Apostles two and two is illustrated. St. Simon and St. Jude, St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Barnabas and St. Bartholomew are parallel instances.

Introit.—They cried unto Thee in the time of their trouble, and Thou heardest them from Heaven. Alleluia. Alleluia. Ps. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, for it becometh well the just to be thankful. Glory be.