This homily was delivered in St. Francisville, LA on 11-13-07 (2nd Vespers)

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be! Today the Orthodox Christian Church celebrates the memory of the Holy Apostle Philip, one of the twelve chosen companions of Christ. Often, I really enjoy talking about the lives of the Saints, and how their examples help us as we’re struggling to live a life following after Christ. And St. Philip is no different—he had an amazing life walking with Christ, and then traveling and preaching the Gospel until he finally suffered martyrdom. But I’d like us to think on a few of the events from the life of the Apostle Philip that are recorded in the Holy Scriptures. Firstly—his calling by the Lord. It’s only one verse—“The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow Me’” (John 1:43). And Philip immediately follows Christ. The Scripture doesn’t have to spell that out, because Philip’s first action after being called by Christ was to share it with others (John 1:44-51). He goes immediately to Nathaniel, and he tells Nathaniel, “we have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45). And Nathaniel knows immediately that Philip is claiming to have found the Messiah, the Saviour of the World. And it only takes one word from Christ to Nathaniel, and we also hear Nathaniel exclaim, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49). So here we see that the Apostle Philip is called to follow Christ, and he rushes off to share what he’s found with others. And the other event from the life of St. Philip that I’d like us to consider are his words at the Mystical Supper, what he says in the upper room the night that Christ was to be arrested. St. Philip says to Christ, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us” (John 14:8). And Christ responds with this beautiful explanation, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so 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” (John 14:9-11). Christ tells us exactly Who He is, and He goes on in this dialogue to discuss why He has come and to foretell coming of the Holy Spirit. And all of this from Philip’s seemingly ignorant question. We do know that after the Resurrection Philip did know Christ fully, and he spent the rest of his life doing what he started his ministry doing—sharing Christ with others. And eventually it cost him his life.

These three movements of the Apostle Philip that we’ve mentioned here (being called, sharing that call, and asking Christ to show them the Father) these three movements form for us a wonderful meditation on what it means to be a Christian. 1-Christian life is all about Christ. He calls, and we answer. We who would follow Him are to behave like Philip did, no thought even, just following the will of Christ. Everything in the Christian Church points us to Christ. Because He is the focal point, not only of our faith, but of the whole cosmos. Whether we want to hear and accept that or not—Christ is the reason for everything that takes place in our world. And our choice is to believe and follow Him so that He can reveal Himself to us, or we can reject Him and live in seperation from our Creator for all of eternity. 2-The reason that the Christian faith is totally focused on Christ, is because the Father (God) and the Son (Christ) and the Holy Spirit are one. There is one God, living eternally in Trinity, three in one, a mystery beyond what we are psychologically able to understand. But a mystery revealed to us by Christ at the last supper, and a mystery central to the Christian faith—because through the words of Christ (both to St. Philip at the supper and in other places as well) it is revealed to us that He is God. This is the central tenant of the Orthodox Christian Faith. Everything else flows from the reality that Christ is God. How we understand His life—His words and actions, how we understand our lives, humanity, morality, the cosmos…it all flows from the revelation of God to man in Jesus Christ. That the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son and Word of God, became man to reveal to humanity the love of God for His creation. 3-Once we’ve found the pearl of great price, not only are we willing to anything to possess it, but we call others to see what we’ve been shown. Just as Philip ran to Nathaniel, once we have seen Christ, our natural impulse is to share that vision with others. This should be the focus of all Christian missions. This is what we’re doing here in St. Francisville, LA—preaching the Gospel that transformed our lives in ways very similar to the transformation that took place in the lives of the Apostles.

But the key to it all, is the first phrase of Christ to Philip—“have you not known Me?” Our lives are meant to be lived in relationship with Jesus Christ. But to live in relationship means that we first have to know the other. There are so many distortions of the Christian faith being preached in the world today. And we know to expect that. Christ even said there would be false prophets and those who attempted to lead the followers of Christ astray. But we also know that the unadulterated teaching about Jesus Christ, about God and about man and about the purpose of life and creation, this unchanging teaching, which is essential to knowing God, this teaching is available even in the world today. The ancient Christians fought so hard to keep the faith unchanged, to preserve the Words and the Doctrine of Christ, they fought so hard to maintain the faith because they understood that knowing Christ as He really is is necessary for mankind to be saved. And we give thanks to God that His revelation of Himself to mankind has been preserved. And we pray for fertile soil, that would receive the word, nurture it, and allow it to produce fruit a hundred fold. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

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