By Ed Little
Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles
A Reading from the Gospel of John 1:43-51
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
“Make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ!” Philip embodies that motto in a profound way. The starting point, as always, is Jesus himself. Shortly after his baptism, Jesus “found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’” Conversion — whether sudden and dramatic, or the result of a long, slow, and imperceptible transformation — begins with Jesus’ invitation. You are reading this devotion because the Lord of the universe drew you to himself. “Amiable agnostics,” C. S. Lewis says in his autobiography Surprised by Joy, “will talk cheerfully about ‘man’s search for God.’ To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat.”
But then the tables quickly turn. No sooner has Jesus called Philip, than Philip “found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’” (Never mind that Nathanael reacts initially with skepticism. Jesus deals with him in a perceptive and humorous way, and Nathanael’s own conversion soon follows!) The natural response to being called is in turn to call others. Philip experiences the joy of meeting Jesus, and he simply can’t help himself. “Come and see.”
Who is your Philip? Who is the person who first invited you into a relationship with Jesus Christ? In my case, he was a college roommate who suggested that I read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time — and, for the first time, I found an open door into an unseen reality, one that eventually led me to Christ.
One more question: To whom are you a Philip? Who has the Lord placed in your life as a Nathanael? May we be faithful to our call to pass on the gift we’ve received.
The Rt. Rev. Edward S. Little II was bishop of Northern Indiana for 16 years after serving parishes in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Joaquin. He is the author of three books; most recently: The Heart of a Leader: St. Paul as Mentor, Model, and Encourager (2020).
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of West Lango – The Church of the Province of Uganda
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Murfreesboro, Tenn.