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May 3: Saints Philip and James, Apostles

Reading 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
Gospel John 14:6-14

“Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.”

As is fitting for the feast of two apostles, the Scriptures for today’s feast highlight that the Church’s foundation is apostolic. Of course, the role of the apostles is not limited to the Church’s beginning.

Those ordained to the office of bishop continue to carry out the work first entrusted to the apostles. It’s true that each and every member of the Church has a vocation that is missionary in nature. 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, chiefly through the Sacred Liturgy. The Gospel is meant—among other goals—to bring order to chaos, and mercy to the scars of sins. 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. Pray, then, for your local bishop and for our universal bishop, His Holiness the Pope, called to preside in charity over the Church on earth.