Today we celebrate two saints who remind us that for most of us the road to understanding the gospel is not so simple.
James the Son of Alpheus, is mentioned only three times in the bible. He is often referred to as James, the Lesser to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee, known as James the greater.
Also today we celebrate Philip who twice is the gospels seems to frustrate Jesus, once at the feeding of the 5000 when he suggests that 200 days wages would not be enough and in the gospel for today when Jesus responds to him with, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?"
But really, which of us could dare to claim that we really know Jesus? The good news is that despite his lack of comprehension he is still a saint. Like Philip we struggle to fully understand the message of the gospel. Perhaps in this life we never fully understand it.
Maybe the struggle of Philip is one of the reasons why when I lived in Rome, I used to love to go out my back door and around the corner, and into the crypt that holds the relics of these two apostles. For me it was one of those rare places where I could kneel and pray and it was as if time stopped. There was a true sense of the holy.
We may call James lesser and remember Philip for his lack of understanding but it was precisely men such as these that were the pillars on which Jesus built his church.
There is hope for us all!