Today is the feast of St. Philip and the man we call “St. James the Lesser” because he is not the St. James that we know as a relative of Jesus and the traditional author of the book of James. Unfortunately, all that we know about this St. James is that Jesus chose him as an apostle. St. Philip we know a bit more about. We hear of him in the Gospel story of the feeding of the multitudes because he is the one who tells Jesus “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” In today’s Gospel we see him again as an apostle who is slow to believe. “Show us the Father,” he says, “and that will be enough for us.”
What we see in them is that the apostles are human men, complete with human flaws, who are called despite their seemingly obvious lack of talent and strength of character. It would be easy for us to label them, along with St. Thomas and all the rest, as slow to believe and understand. But aren’t we that way sometimes? How often when our faith gets tested do we lose sight of the fact that God is right there with us, in the thick of it all, walking with us as we suffer, never letting us be alone? But how often at those times do we say “God, where are you?” “Show us the Father,” we want to say, because we feel so alone. If the Apostles themselves were so slow to believe, it’s no wonder that we sometimes need a little convincing.
To those Philip and James and all the rest of the Apostles, Jesus said then, “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.” Jesus says that to us today, too, all of us disciples who are slow to believe and understand. “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do.”