Memorial of St. Phillip Neri, priest
Gospel JOHN 17:1-11A Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.
“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”
“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.”
Jesus was speaking to His Father.
According to the Hebrews there is power and meaning in a name. Your name is the key to your soul. The Hebrew word for soul is neshamah. Central to that word, the middle two letters, shin and mem, make the word shem, Hebrew for ‘name.’ Names are to some extent prophetic. They capture our essence.*
Today is the memorial of St. Phillip Neri, priest and confessor. The name Phillip which means “Warlike; or a lover of horses” was a prophesy and would describe St. Phillip’s person.
How can the meaning of his name be a prophesy? As a young boy Phillip was impetuous. He saw a donkey loaded for market and thought it would be fun to ride the donkey. In that moment, he found himself jumping onto its back. Not expecting the rider, the donkey lost its footing; and donkey, load, and boy tumbled down into a cellar. Phillip was on bottom of the load and the donkey. It was a miracle that he was unhurt. This was a sign that he would live up to the meaning of his name.
Phillip’s sense of adventure and love would become focused on God. Prayer was particularly important to him. One night in the catacombs while he was praying a “white globe of light entered his mouth and sank into his heart.” It was at that moment Phillip became God’s warrior and fell madly in love with God.
During his life he worked to spread the Gospel to incurably sick people, beggars, bankers, and anyone he met. He was a good confessor and spiritual director for young men who were seeking God. Phillip loved to sing and was unpredictable and humorous. He said, “ A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one.”
He seemed to understand how to help people truly know themselves by his lessons of humility. Once a man, who was later to become a Cardinal, seemed too serious to Phillip. So, he told the man to sing the Misere at a wedding breakfast.** Phillip knew that the virtue of humility was important to teach others and to learn himself. There were times when Phillip would shave half of his beard off and wear silly clothes to humble himself.
St. Phillip Neri died when he was 80 years after a long illness. He was a warrior for God and loved Him with all his heart. He truly lived up to his name.
Jesus taught the apostles about His Father. What name do you think He revealed to them?
Could it be the same one God told Moses? “I AM”
Let us pray for all priests to be humble and love God with all their heart.
Please, pray our Prayer for Priests.