Apostles Child-Like and Rabbinical

Two quick points on the two Holy Apostles, Ss. Philip and James.*

1. Maybe you remember how we spoke 2 ½ weeks ago about St. Thomas, about how child-like and straightforward he was in his conversations with Christ. St. Philip was equally as intimate with Jesus and also wore his heart on his sleeve.

When the Lord asked Philip about feeding 5,000 men and their families, the no-nonsense Apostle quickly calculated how much money it would cost. 200 denarii.

Then, at the Last Supper, Jesus told the Apostles that they now knew and could see the Father. Philip broke the solemn silence. “Show us!”

2. St. James, who was a kinsman of Christ, became the first Bishop of Jerusalem. Now, here’s a question: What was the difference between a rabbi in Jerusalem and the first Bishop of Jerusalem?

The people called Christ “rabbi.” Rabbis made other rabbis by gathering disciples to themselves and teaching them over a period of three years or so. All the rabbis in Jerusalem had become rabbis by studying under rabbis. St. James also was a rabbi who had studied under a rabbi.

See my point?

One thing Jerusalem rabbis did was to write letters to Jews in other parts of the Roman Empire. These letters encouraged diaspora Jews and helped them to stay faithful.

Now, obviously, the first Christian Bishop of Jerusalem would never write such a letter! Except that he did. It’s the twentieth book of the New Testament.

Rabbi-Bishop James’ letter to the Diaspora does not, however, urge the observance of the Law of Moses. It makes no mention of Temple sacrifices. Instead, St. James interprets and applies the Sermon on the Mount.

So…what do both these Holy Apostles teach us? What do all apostles teach us? This:

You want God? You want religion? Keep it simple. Look to Jesus Christ.

*a.k.a. James “the Less,” to distinguish him from St. John’s brother James, who is called “the Greater.”


I know we all like to find little insights into the New Testament. P&BD readers tend to be New Testament junkies

Among the Apostles of Christ, two were named James. After the Lord ascended into heaven, one of the Jameses became the head of the Church in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Gamaliel, died A.D. 62
Rabbi Gamaliel, died A.D. 62
This James is known as “James the Less.” He wrote a letter, which is one of the 27 books of the New Testament.

St. Paul addressed his letters to the Christians of a particular town, like the Romans or Corinthians.

St. James, on the other hand, addressed his letter to:

“the twelve tribes in the Diaspora.”

The term Diaspora refers to Jews living outside the Holy Land.

Apparently, there were many letters written by Jewish religious authorities in Jerusalem to the brethren of the Diaspora.

The “Diaspora letter”–or Diasporabrief, as the German scholars call it–is a particular type of ancient Jewish literature. A Diaspora letter always urged Jews living among Gentiles to hold fast to the Covenant.

Perhaps St. James had these letters in mind when he wrote his letter. Likewise, the first readers of St. James’ letter might also have been familiar with “Diaspora letters.”

jewish diasporaThis makes St. James’ letter interesting not only for what it says, but also for what it does NOT say. It does not have the usual “Diaspora letter” content.

St. James’ letter does not urge the audience to keep the Mosaic law and the traditions of the Pharisees and rabbis. It does not encourage travel to the Holy Land. It does not pray for victory over the Romans (who were in the process of crushing the Jewish community in Israel).

Instead, St. James presents the teachings of Christ. The letter reads like a paraphrase of the Sermon on the Mount–a paraphrase given by someone who heard the Sermon with his own ears and learned to live in accord with it.

In other words, the letter of James IS a Diasporabrief. St. James intentionally imitated the rabbis. He was a rabbi, after all–a scholar and leader of Jews.

But St. James’ Diasporabrief was addressed to Jews who realized that the true Jerusalem is in heaven, and Jesus Christ is the High Priest of the Temple.

Red-Rose-City Memory & All-Star Week


Across the street from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., there is a seminary.

My mother grew up with a beloved pastor at her hometown church. When he died in 1997, we went to Lancaster for the funeral.

The pastor’s best friend taught at the seminary across from F&M. He preached the funeral. One of the things he said was:

“Wallace loved his enemies. But to love your enemies, you have to have the courage to make some.”

…We are in the middle of another all-star week of saints:

Pius V in Santa Maria Maggiore
Pius V in Santa Maria Maggiore
On Tuesday, we kept the Memorial of St. Louis de Montfort, author of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

Wednesday was the Memorial of St. Catharine of Siena.

Yesterday (April 30) we kept the Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, who gave us the Missal upon which our current Missal is based.

Today we keep the Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker.

Pretty soon I will get around to giving you a summary of In Tune with the World by Josef Pieper. He wrote the book in the 1960’s to explain why Communist May-Day celebrations are not truly festive.

(This is also the Pope’s name day. In a week, he will be going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.)

Tomorrow is the Memorial of St. Athanasius, the hero of the Council of Nicea, the champion of our Creed.

And May 3 is the Feast of the Apostles Philip and James the Less (though we do not keep the feast this year, because it falls on Sunday).

…Here is a beautiful place to go to Mass in the “Red Rose City,” St. Mary of the Assumption:


…Three years ago today, we buried my dear dad

…Another question we have to get to the bottom of: Did our Lord carry His cross through the “Genath Gate” in the ancient wall of Jerusalem?

St. Catharine of Siena
St. Catharine of Siena
St. Athanasius
St. Athanasius
Saints Philip and James parish on N. Charles St., Baltimore
Saints Philip and James parish on N. Charles St., Baltimore