Thursday, May 11, 2006

Jesus' Caterer

The feast of St. Philip, one of the 12 disciples of Christ, is celebrated on this day by some.

A native of Bethsaida on Lake Galilee, Philip is thought to have been a follower of John the Baptist, since Jesus called him to "follow me" as Philip stood with a crowd of onlookers on the banks of the River Jordan as John the Baptist performed baptisms there.

Philip is traditionally held to have been in charge of finding and distributing food to Jesus and his band, and was apparently flummoxed when Jesus asked Philip to buy food for an assembled crowd of 5,000 people. No doubt he was astonished to find, as Jesus had directed, that his meager store of five loaves and two small fishes was sufficient to feed the multitudes. For his role in the miracle of the fishes and the loaves, Philip is often represented with the symbol of five loaves in church art. Philip was also a crack networker and advance man (as all caterers must be), having brought Bartholomew to Jesus as well as some Greeks who had traveled to Jerusalem for Passover.

At the Last Supper, after Jesus had declared "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me," Philip earnestly asks Jesus to show the "Father." Jesus replied: "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father . . . he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

Sources disagree about the rest of Philip's life after the crucifixion. Some say he died of natural causes at Hierapolis in Turkey at the site of a beautiful Byzantine church which stands to this day; others say he was crucified on a tall cross -- another frequent symbol for St. Philip.



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