Homily for the Apostles’ Feast


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.

Holy Apostles’ Moment

Georgetown Hoyas season kinda in a shambles. Big man academically disqualified for the season. On the road tonight in Omaha (the real place, which is wonderful–as opposed to the barking of that annoying quarterback). The Creighton Bluejays enjoy double-digit favor. Never thought I would live to see the day when the Hoyas would tip-off against Creighton–much less as 10-point underdogs. Pray for me.

Edward Armitage Call of Apostles fishermen

Peter, Andrew, James, and John. “Come, follow me.”

He came to them, and invited them to put Him first. They had made their living on the water, pulling up redbelly tilapia by the dozens, in big nets. We know from reading later portions of the gospels that this particular day did not mark their absolutely last fishing trip. They would fish again. But Jesus beckoned in that moment: Let it all go for now, and put Me first.

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Christ’s Baptism and Ours

Can you be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? (Mark 10:38)

The Lord Jesus asked the ambitious Apostles this question. When the Lord referred to “the baptism with which I am baptized,” what exactly did He mean?

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Source of Apostolic Zeal: the Promise

(for the Feast of St. Bartholomew)

The Holy Apostles acted with such great courage that they seem superhuman.

Among the Apostles, we know St. Paul the most intimately, since so many of his writings have been passed down to us. We know the details of how he willingly suffered every possible hardship for the sake of expanding the kingdom of Christ.

St. Paul nearly starved; he nearly drowned; was repeatedly imprisoned, flogged, beaten within an inch of his life. He patiently endured painful mistreatment of every kind—the willful misunderstanding of his motives by people he had helped, betrayal by people he loved, the unfair judgment of countless supposed allies. In the end, he willingly bent his neck under the executioner’s axe, rather than deny Christ.

All the Apostles acted with similarly astonishing zeal and dedication. The Church expanded from a small band of dreamers, apparently beaten in an obscure Roman province, to a unified worldwide organization.

In other words, a great miracle of social development occurred. And at the heart of this miracle lies the Apostles’ superhuman zeal. Where did it come from?

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Women, Apostles, Faith

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
(John 11:25-27)

A week ago, we considered how St. Mary Magdalen preached the Gospel of love to the Apostles, who themselves are the source and fountainhead of the preaching of the whole Church.

Today, we behold how Mary’s sister Martha answered the Lord with a confession of the Catholic faith, just like St. Peter had done.

When the Lord Jesus led the Apostles on a little retreat to the mountains north of Galilee, He asked them, ‘Who do you say that I am?’

Peter spoke for the group and replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’

Then, when the Lord traveled south to the suburbs of Jerusalem to raise His friend Lazarus from the dead, he asked Martha, ‘Do you believe?’ And she replied, ‘Yes, Lord. I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God.’

So the Memorials of these two holy sisters resound like questions posed to us right here and now. Who do we say that Jesus is? Do we believe that He rose from the dead? Do we believe that He will raise our mortal bodies also? Do we believe that He will come again in glory?

Yes, we do. But we do not have the heroic faith of the Apostles, or of the women who made it possible for the Apostles to be Apostles. We let our faith get clouded over by nonsense sometimes. So we add, ‘Yes, Lord, we believe. But help Thou our unbelief.’

Stating the Obvious

Lake Philpott and the Blue Ridge

Do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. (Matthew 10:19)

The Lord instructed His Apostles, “Proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

The kingdom of God is at hand. Admittedly, this is a challenging and mysterious thing to proclaim. Mysterious because God altogether transcends our understanding. Challenging because, if the altogether transcendent One is asserting His authority, then we all certainly need to take a long, hard look at what we are doing and clean things up a bit.

Granted, then: The apostolic proclamation of the coming of God’s Kingdom is mysterious and challenging. But can it be called offensive, or even surprising?

Can it surprise any reasonable person to hear that Almighty God reigns? Quite the contrary, it is an obvious fact. Almighty God certainly reigns. If there is any question whatsoever about whether or not Almighty God reigns, all you need to do is drive up to the Philpott Dam overlook at closing time and watch the sun set. Almighty God reigns.

Is it offensive to declare that Almighty God reigns? Apparently it is, because the Lord warns us that we will be handed over to courts and even put to death for stating forthrightly such a simple and obvious fact. Then He tells us not to worry about what to say when the crisis comes.

The Lord Jesus promises that the Spirit of the Father will speak in us.

We can be confident of this because the Holy Spirit can and will inspire whomever He wills to inspire.

And we can be confident, and not worry about our speeches in defense of the Gospel, because, after all, it really is not complicated.

God is God. He is not a little pet or a pile of dirty laundry you can shove in the closet. He makes all that exists exist. His Kingdom is at hand; He reigns. No duh.

It did not take a rocket scientist to explain the meaning of life to the human race.

It just took the meek and humble carpenter Who did not clamor in the streets but went quietly, like a lamb, to His destiny.

Very Unlikely Confederates

Could two more different men than Peter and Paul possibly be found? Yes, they were both Jewish males, born in the same decade. But any similarity ends there.

Paul was bookish; Peter was a man of the sea. Paul was a city-slicker, cosmopolitan, a Roman citizen; Peter came from the quiet seaside hills. If it weren’t for Christ, Peter probably never in his life would have left the shores of the Sea of Galilee. If it weren’t for Christ, Paul probably would never in his life have spoken with a single Galilean.

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Jerusalem Council, Maundy Mandate

The Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything. (John 14:26)

These are the words of our Lord Jesus to the Apostles at the Last Supper. He was explaining to them what would happen after He ascended into heaven.

That was the beginning of the Catholic Church.

The Lord Jesus had taught the Apostles many things while He was on the earth. There would be many other things He would teach them from heaven. As He promised, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide His Church.

In the Acts of Apostles, St. Luke recounts the first Church Council. The situation was this: The Apostles had gone out from Jerusalem to preach the Gospel. In the surrounding countries, both Jews and non-Jews came to believe. This left the Apostles with an honest question.

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“Call no man on earth your father.”

1. When it really counted, USA hockey lost to Canada.

2. The Hoyas are on a late-season slide, and Austin Freeman is sick as a dog.

3. Very strange things are going to start happening at D.C. Superior Court tomorrow.

4. It is still nowhere near 70 degrees…

March has arrived like an ill-tempered goat.

This situation calls for an exegetical discourse! In honor of the Year of the Priest!

“Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9)

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Pastoral Charity


In his letters, St. Peter referred to the fact that his job was to remind his people of things they had already learned. They learned them when they first embraced the Catholic faith.

St. Peter also promised to make sure that there would be someone else to remind them after he had died (II Peter 1:15).

mosesThere is an unbroken succession of Popes from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. The succession from one pope to the next began with the fatherly love of the first Pope for his people…

…Please say a little prayer for me. The Archbishop has asked me to come to his office this afternoon. I am afraid he might do something rash, like entrust one of his parishes to me.

Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

…I am working on a new special-edition Bests list, to be published soon. In the meantime, here is an extra:

Best Bobby Darin song: