Eloquence—Spoken and Unspoken

St. Isidore the Farmer

Acts 20:17-27; John 17:1-11a


When most of us hear the word “apology,” we immediately think of saying “I’m sorry” for everything from a transgression of ordinary courtesy to a grave sin.

But there’s also another form of apology, the apologia.  It’s a formal defense, sometimes oral but more often written, of one’s words or actions.  Today’s scripture readings feature written accounts of the apologiae of St. Paul and Jesus to their friends and disciples.  They give a summary explanation of their ministries and commend themselves and their missions to God, the final judge of us all.

There is a risk that an apology can be perfunctory or merely self-serving.  That wasn’t the case with the apologiae offered by Jesus and Paul.  They had a deeper sense of accountability:

  • To God, who had given them their missions;
  • To those who were entrusted to their care, those whom they were called to serve;  and
  • To themselves, to be faithful to they call they had received.

Paul and Jesus had the eloquence to give their apologiae in words as well as in the literal offering of their lives.  But there are other ways to offer an apologia or some other form of witness.  Today we remember two saints, St. Isidore and his wife, St. Maria. They were illiterate peasant farmers, a couple who knew not only poverty but the pain of losing their only child at a young age.  Yet they eloquently proclaimed the love of God and the power of the Gospel in their piety and in their generosity toward others who were poor. 

Today we here in the USA especially remember all those engaged in the hard work of farming.  As fewer and fewer of us are involved in agriculture and as our supermarkets continue to swell with food from all around the world, we can easily become disconnected from the land and more importantly from the people who produce our food—from the fourth generation wheat farmer in Kansas or dairy farmer in Wisconsin to the immigrant farm workers who pick our fruits and vegetables all across this country.  We are grateful for their work and we pray for their protection and for just policies and markets that provide them and their families with a decent living.—JC