.- St. Philip is the latest Apostle to gain Pope Benedict XVI’s attention. The Holy Father, who has been working his way through a catechesis on each of the Apostles, used today’s General Audience to tell the twenty-five thousand gathered of the life of Philip and to encourage them to “meet Jesus as Philip met Him.”
The Pope, who traveled back to the Vatican from Castelgandolfo in order to hold his Audience in St. Peter’s Square, pointed out that Philip came Bethsaida, just as Peter and Andrew did, and that along with the two brothers, Philip was one of the first Apostles.
Philip, he said, immediately demonstrated "the characteristics of the true witness," recalling Philip’s encounter with Nathaniel. The Pope recounted the story found in the Gospel of John, in which Philip tells Nathaniel of Jesus and speaks of who Christ truly is. When Nathaniel is skeptical Philip tells him, “Come and see;” showing, the Pope said, that Philip was not simply content to speak of Jesus, "but suggested (Nathanial) come and experience personally what was being announced."
"The Apostle calls us to a close knowledge of Jesus," said the Pope. Benedict recalled the words of Mark’s Gospel in which he said that Jesus appointed the twelve, "primarily 'to be with Him,' in other words, to share His life and learn directly from Him, not only His behavior but, above all, exactly who He was.”
“Intimacy, familiarity, and habit bring us to discover the true identity of Jesus Christ,” Benedict said. “It is precisely of this that the Apostle Philip reminds us."
On the occasion of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the Pope considered, it was to Philip that Jesus turned asking where they could buy bread to feed the multitudes following Him. Before the Passion, too, a number of Greeks approached Philip wanting to see Jesus. In both cases, the Apostle took on the role of "intermediary ... teaching us to be ever ready to welcome questions and requests, ... from wherever they may come, and to guide them towards the Lord, Who alone is capable of satisfying them fully."
During the Last Supper it was Philip who asked the Lord to show them the Father receiving Jesus' reply, "he who has seen me has seen the Father," said Pope Benedict. And, he explained: "Expressing ourselves in accordance with the paradox of the Incarnation, we could well say that God assumed a human face, that of Jesus, and so from now on, if we truly wish to know the face of God, we must do no more than contemplate the face of Jesus."
The goal to which our lives must tend," the Pope concluded, is "to meet Jesus as Philip met Him, seeking to see in Him the Heavenly Father. If this commitment is lacking, we would simply be turned back to ourselves, as in a mirror. ... Philip invites us to allow ourselves to be conquered by Jesus, to be with Him and to invite others to share His indispensable company."
After the audience, the Pope greeted pilgrims in various languages, also mentioning his forthcoming apostolic trip to Germany. "I thank the Lord," he said, "for the opportunity He has given me to visit, for the first time since my election as Bishop of Rome, my homeland of Bavaria." Benedict XVI asked people to pray for his journey, and confided the visit to the Virgin Mary, that she may "obtain for the German people a springtime of renewed faith and civil progress."