Sts. Philip & James, Apostles
1 Corinthians 15:1-8 + John 14:6-14
“Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.”
Throughout the Easter Season, the Scriptures at Holy Mass focus our attention upon several recurring themes. Examples of this are the Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life, and the unity of the Church. As is fitting for the feast of two apostles, the Scriptures for today’s feast of St. Philip and St. James highlight how the Church’s foundation is apostolic. Of course, the role of the apostles goes beyond the Church’s beginning.
Those ordained to the office of bishop continue to carry out the work first entrusted to the apostles. Each and every member of the Church has a vocation that is missionary in nature: in fact, “apostolic” in nature, inasmuch as the word “apostle” literally means “one who is sent”. Every Christian is called to “go outside himself” and share with others the natural and supernatural gifts he has received. Most Christians do this chiefly through family life, and in the secular workplace and community. We might say that the laity are apostles “ad extra”, outside the walls of the Church.
However, within the Church, those called to the office of bishop have a unique role. While laypeople proclaim the Gospel within the domestic church and in the workplace and community, bishops proclaim the Gospel to all of the Church’s members, and this chiefly through the Sacred Liturgy. The Gospel is meant—among other goals—to bring order to chaos: that is, to foster unity. Everyone who is a member of a family, a neighborhood, a parish, etc. knows how difficult it can be to cultivate unity.
Unity is the first of the Church’s four marks for a reason. Apostolicity serves her unity. For this reason, then, pray for your local bishop and for our universal bishop, His Holiness the Pope, called to preside in charity over the Church throughout the entire earth.