Bookmark and Share

Saint Philip the Apostle

Born in Bethsaida, Galilee; martyred c.80 in Hierapolis
Feast day - 3 May. Patron Saint of Uruguay.

Catechesis by Pope Benedict XVI
General Audience, Wednesday 6 September 2006 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
While we continue to outline the features of the various Apostles, as we have been doing for several weeks, today we meet Philip. He always comes fifth in the lists of the Twelve (cf Mt 10, 3; Mk 3, 18; Lk 6, 14; Acts 1, 13); hence, he is definitely among the first. Although Philip was of Jewish origin, his name is Greek, like that of Andrew, and this is a small sign of cultural openness that must not be underestimated. The information we have on him is provided by John's Gospel. Like Peter and Andrew, he is a native of Bethsaida (cf Jn 1, 44), a town that belonged to the Tetrarchy of a son of Herod the Great, who was also called Philip (cf Lk 3, 1).

The Fourth Gospel recounts that after being called by Jesus, Philip meets Nathanael and tells him: "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (Jn 1, 45). Philip does not give way to Nathanael's somewhat sceptical answer ("Can anything good come out of Nazareth?") and firmly retorts: "Come and see!" (Jn 1, 46). In his dry but clear response, Philip displays the characteristics of a true witness: he is not satisfied with presenting the proclamation theoretically, but directly challenges the person addressing him by suggesting he have a personal experience of what he has been told. The same two verbs are used by Jesus when two disciples of John the Baptist approach him to ask him where he is staying. Jesus answers: "Come and see" (cf Jn 1, 38-39).

We can imagine that Philip is also addressing us with those two verbs that imply personal involvement. He is also saying to us what he said to Nathanael: "Come and see." The Apostle engages us to become closely acquainted with Jesus. In fact, friendship, true knowledge of the other person, needs closeness and indeed, to a certain extent, lives on it. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that according to what Mark writes, Jesus chose the Twelve primarily "to be with him" (Mk 3, 14); that is, to share in his life and learn directly from him not only the style of his behaviour, but above all who He really was. Indeed, only in this way, taking part in his life, could they get to know Him and subsequently, proclaim Him. Later, in Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, one reads that what is important is to "learn Christ" (Eph 4, 20): therefore, not only and not so much to listen to his teachings and words as rather to know Him in person, that is, his humanity and his divinity, his mystery and his beauty. In fact, he is not only a Teacher but a Friend, indeed, a Brother. How will we be able to get to know him properly by being distant? Closeness, familiarity and habit make us discover the true identity of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Philip reminds us precisely of this. And thus he invites us to "come" and "see", that is, to enter into a contact of listening, of responding and of communion of life with Jesus, day by day.

Then, on the occasion of the multiplication of the loaves, he received a request from Jesus as precise as it was surprising: that is, where could they buy bread to satisfy the hunger of all the people who were following him (cf Jn 6, 5). Then Philip very realistically answered: "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little" (Jn 6, 7). Here one can see the practicality and realism of the Apostle who can judge the effective implications of a situation. We then know how things went. We know that Jesus took the loaves and after giving thanks, distributed them. Thus, he brought about the multiplication of the loaves. It is interesting, however, that it was to Philip himself that Jesus turned for some preliminary help with solving the problem: this is an obvious sign that he belonged to the close group that surrounded Jesus. On another occasion very important for future history, before the Passion some Greeks who had gone to Jerusalem for the Passover "came to Philip... and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus" (cf Jn 12, 20-22). Once again, we have an indication of his special prestige within the Apostolic College. In this case, Philip acts above all as an intermediary between the request of some Greeks - he probably spoke Greek and could serve as an interpreter - and Jesus; even if he joined Andrew, the other Apostle with a Greek name, he was in any case the one whom the foreigners addressed. This teaches us always to be ready to accept questions and requests, wherever they come from, and to direct them to the Lord, the only one who can fully satisfy them. Indeed, it is important to know that the prayers of those who approach us are not ultimately addressed to us, but to the Lord: it is to Him that we must direct anyone in need. So it is that each one of us must be an open road towards Him!

There is then another very particular occasion when Philip makes his entrance. During the Last Supper, after Jesus affirmed that to know him was also to know the Father (cf Jn 14, 7), Philip quite ingenuously asks him: "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied" (Jn 14, 8). Jesus answered with a gentle rebuke: "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who 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 in me?... Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me" (Jn 14, 9-11). These words are among the most exalted in John's Gospel. They contain a true and proper revelation. At the end of the Prologue to his Gospel, John says: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known" (Jn 1, 18). Well, that declaration which is made by the Evangelist is taken up and confirmed by Jesus himself, but with a fresh nuance. In fact, whereas John's Prologue speaks of an explanatory intervention by Jesus through the words of his teaching, in his answer to Philip Jesus refers to his own Person as such, letting it be understood that it is possible to understand Him not only through what He says, but still more through what He simply is. To express ourselves according to the paradox of the Incarnation, we can certainly say that God gave himself a human face, the Face of Jesus, and consequently, from now on, if we truly want to know the Face of God, all we have to do is to contemplate the Face of Jesus! In his Face we really see who God is and what God is like!

The Evangelist does not tell us whether Philip grasped the full meaning of Jesus' sentence. There is no doubt that he dedicated his whole life entirely to him. According to certain later accounts (Acts of Philip and others), our Apostle is said to have evangelized first Greece and then Phrygia, where he is supposed to have died, in Hierapolis, by a torture described variously as crucifixion or stoning. Let us conclude our reflection by recalling the aim to which our whole life must aspire: to encounter Jesus as Philip encountered him, seeking to see in Him God Himself, the heavenly Father. If this commitment were lacking, we would be reflected back to ourselves as in a mirror and become more and more lonely! Philip teaches us instead to let ourselves be won over by Jesus, to be with Him and also to invite others to share in this indispensable company; and by seeing, by finding God, to find true life."

Saluti:

"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins francophones présents ce matin. Puissiez-vous, à l’exemple de l’Apôtre Philippe, être toujours plus attentifs aux besoins de vos frères et leur faire rencontrer le Christ, qui est la source de toute joie !

I warmly welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present at this audience, including members of the Brothers of Charity services in County Cork, Ireland, and the staff and students from St Joseph’s Institute in Copenhagen. May your time in Rome deepen your love of Christ and his Church. Upon you all I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

Einen ganz herzlichen und frohen Gruß richte ich heute an die zahlreichen Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Besonders begrüße ich – das Vorherige aufnehmend – die große Schar der Goldhaubenfrauen aus Bayern und Oberösterreich, die gemeinsam mit ihren Hirten Bischof Wilhelm Schraml von Passau und Bischof Ludwig Schwarz von Linz, nach Rom gepilgert sind. Liebe Goldhaubenfrauen, ihr wißt, wie sehr ich diese Tracht liebe, tragt diese schöne Tracht zur Ehre Gottes und wißt zugleich, wie das Neue Testament uns sagt, daß der innerste Schmuck der Frau natürlich von ihrem Herzen kommt. Ebenso herzlich begrüße ich die Bürgerschützen aus Paderborn mit Erzbischof Hans-Josef Becker, sowie die Fußwallfahrer: 400 Fußwallfahrer aus dem Bistum Regensburg. Wir sehen uns ja, so Gott will, gleich wieder in Regensburg, aber ich komme nicht zu Fuß. Der Herr schenke euch allen, die ihr hier seid, die Gnade, Jesus zu begegnen und andere zu ihm zu führen, damit sie durch ihn den Vater finden. – In der Vorfreude auf meinen schon sehr nahen Pastoralbesuch in Bayern erbitte ich für euch alle Gottes reichsten Segen.

Saludo cordialmente a los visitantes de lengua española, en especial a los de Logroño, con el Señor Cardenal Eduardo Martínez Somalo; a la peregrinación diocesana de Huelva y a los diversos grupos parroquiales de España. Saludo también a los peregrinos de Colombia, Chile y de otros Países Latinoamericanos. Os animo, como el apóstol Felipe, a dejaros conquistar por el Señor, invitando también a otros a participar de su vida y de su amor. ¡Que Dios os bendiga!

Saúdo com afeto os peregrinos de língua portuguesa aqui presentes. De modo especial desejo mencionar a presença do Seminário Maior de São José da Diocese de Bragança-Miranda, e um grupo de visitantes de Portugal e do Brasil. Rogo a Deus que este encontro com o Sucessor de Pedro os leve a um sempre maior compromisso com a Igreja reunida na caridade, ao conceder-vos uma propiciadora Bênção para vossas famílias e comunidades.

Pozdrawiam obecnych tu Polaków. Apostoł Filip, który w Jezusie rozpoznał zapowiedzianego przez proroków Mesjasza, zaprasza i nas do spotkania z Nim. Mówi: „Chodź i zobacz!” (J 1, 46). Jest to wezwanie do naśladowania i kontemplacji, do poznawania Chrystusa i do odpowiadania na Jego miłość przez życie wierne miłości. Przyjmijmy to zaproszenie. Niech wam Bóg błogosławi.

Srdačno pozdravljam hrvatske hodočasnike, a osobito vjernike iz župe svetoga Alojzija Gonzage iz Popovače! Predragi, pred blagdan rođenja Blažene Djevice Marije molimo da i naš, po vjeri preporođeni život, bude radosno služenje Bogu! Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

Srdečně vítám a zdravím zde přítomné "vozíčkáře" Petýrkova a jejich doprovod, jakož i poutníky z farnosti Hluk na Moravě. Děkuji za Vaši návštěvu zde ve Vatikánu. Rád vám žehnám! Chvála Kristu!

Most a magyar zarándokokat köszöntöm, főleg azokat, akik Szombatfalváról érkeztek. Isten hozott Benneteket! Ez a római út erősítsen meg hitetekben. Szívből adom Rátok apostoli áldásomat. Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus!

Zo srdca pozdravujem pútnikov z Bratislavy, Trenčianskych Teplíc, Drietomy a z Teologickej fakulty Trnavskej univerzity. Bratia a sestry, v týchto dňoch sa začína školský rok. Vyprosujme si od Ducha Svätého jeho dary, predovšetkým pravú múdrosť. S týmto želaním vás žehnám. Pochválený buď Ježiš Kristus!

***

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto i partecipanti al Congresso internazionale dei laici carmelitani; le Figlie di Nostra Signora della Misericordia; i fedeli della diocesi di Massa Carrara-Pontremoli, accompagnati dal loro Pastore Mons. Eugenio Binini e i fedeli di Roccacasale e di Sulmona accompagnati dal Vescovo Mons. Giuseppe Di Falco; i numerosi gruppi sportivi del Sannio, qui convenuti con l'Arcivescovo di Benevento Mons. Andrea Mugione. Cari amici, auguro che la vostra visita alle tombe degli Apostoli vi rinsaldi nell'adesione a Cristo e vi renda suoi testimoni nelle famiglie e nelle comunità ecclesiali.

Saluto infine i giovani, i malati e gli sposi novelli. Cari giovani, tornando dopo le vacanze alle consuete attività, riprendete anche il ritmo regolare del vostro dialogo con Dio, diffondendo attorno a voi la sua luce e la sua pace. Voi, cari malati, trovate conforto nel Signore Gesù, che continua la sua opera di redenzione nella vita di ogni uomo. E voi, cari sposi novelli, sforzatevi di mantenere un costante contatto con Dio, affinché il vostro amore sia sempre più vero, fecondo e duraturo.

Alla preghiera di tutti voi vorrei, infine, affidare il viaggio apostolico che compirò in Germania a partire da sabato prossimo. Ringrazio il Signore per l'opportunità che mi offre di recarmi, per la prima volta dopo la mia elezione a Vescovo di Roma, in Baviera mia terra di origine. Accompagnatemi, cari amici, in questa mia visita, che affido alla Vergine Santa. Sia Lei a guidare i miei passi: sia Lei a ottenere per il popolo tedesco una rinnovata primavera di fede e di civile progresso."