We celebrate these two apostles together on the same day because their relics were brought together from the Holy Land to Rome in the 6th century.
We have just a few references to these apostles in the scriptures. James is often referred to as James the Less in order to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee, and from James “The brother of the Lord,” or perhaps to indicate youth or lack of stature. He is believed to be the first bishop of Jerusalem, and early church historians state that he drank no wine, wore no sandals, was celibate and prostrated so often in prayer that his knees hardened up ‘like a camel’s hoof!’ He died as a martyr in Jerusalem in 62 AD.
Philip had a “go-getter,” zealous type of personality. One of the first chosen disciples, he obeyed immediately when Christ found him and said, “Follow me.” Philip then found his friend Nathanael, and told him that he was sure that Jesus was the One that Moses had written about in the Old Testament. Nathanael replied famously “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” and Philip simply responded “Come and see!” Philip also had the gift of saying out-loud the things that were in everyone’s mind. He questioned Jesus about how he was going to feed the 5000 with no money to buy food, and at the Last Supper, in his fervor, he asked Jesus to show them the Father.
O God, who gladden us each year with the feast day of the Apostles Philip and James, grant us, through their prayers, a share in the Passion and Resurrection of your Only Begotten Son, so that we may merit to behold you for eternity.