The good Lord gave His Apostles something. What exactly?
He gave them the experience of intimate friendship with Him, the God-man. The Apostles lived for three years in close quarters with a uniquely luminous man. (The phrase “uniquely luminous” seems like a preposterously inadequate way of putting it.)
Jesus loved His Apostles, with divine love, while they walked. While they washed-up before eating. While they prepared themselves to sleep. He loved them with infinite divine love when they got tired, or confused, or out-of-sorts. If they got cold on a chilly morning, or sweated under the hot sun, He shared that with them. And loved them in the chill, or in the heat, with the infinite love of Almighty God.
He also gave them His doctrine. He taught them about God, religion, and human virtue. Through Jesus’ teaching, the Apostles came to grasp the mystery of faith. The Messiah had come—God Himself became man. He came to suffer, die, and conquer death. He came to open heaven, to unite earth and heaven, and to unite the human race. Jesus instructed the Apostles in their mission, which they ultimately came to understand.
The Lord also gave the Apostles each other. He formed them into a unique “social network.” (Again, the phrase falls woefully short.) They learned to love Him, and each other, more than anything–more than their bodily survival.
After all: Together, they saw Him risen from the dead. That experience united the Apostles with a bond immeasurably stronger even than the marriage bond of husband and wife; stronger than the family bond of parents and children, or brothers and sisters. The Lord united the Apostles, bound them to each other, with a truly heavenly, eternal bond.
And, of course, above all: Jesus gave the Apostles Himself. He gave them His Body, Blood, soul, and divinity. He made them priests of His holy mystery, priests of His divine flesh and blood.
We keep the feasts of the Apostles at a time when, seems to me, no reasonable person can trust the successors of the Apostles, the men who wear miters. Can’t trust them as an organization of honest fellow human beings. They ain’t.
Maybe in a hundred years the hierarchy will have somehow gotten transformed into a fundamentally sound organization of honest men. After all, it has been such an organization, at various points in the past. Let’s try to do all we can to hasten the day when it is such again.
But all of that is merely a problem of contemporary Church politics. None of it nullifies the gifts that the Lord gave to the Apostles. By His grace, those gifts endure, and we have access to them. Jesus gave His gifts of divine love to the Apostles so that we could have them, too.
May He be praised for His divine generosity.