The Good News for the Day, September 6, 2022
Tuesday of the Twenty-third Week of Ordinary Time (487)
Jesus went away to a remote highland to pray. There he spent the night in prayer to God. When dawn came, he gathered his followers around him.
From among them, He chose a dozen—He called them “Apostles.”
They were Simon (the one he re-named Peter)—and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (Alphaeus’s son), Simon (termed a Zealot), and Judas (James’s son), and Judas Iscariot, who turned out a traitor.
Jesus Preaches. Jesus Heals.
Jesus came down with them and stood on a level stretch of ground. A great number of his followers, as well as a significant throng of others from all over Judea and Jerusalem—as well as Tyre and Sidon—came to hear him. He healed things wrong with them. Even those distressed by demonic behaviors were cured. Everyone in the crowd kept trying to touch him because power came from him. He healed everybody who came. (Luke 6)
Reflections of the Word of Jesus
Scholars remind us Jesus did not use other terms for these Twelve. Not rabbis, messengers, priests, deacons, ministers, bishops, disciples, or students. The word chosen – the one they are known by –happens to be a very specific word about a very specific task.
The Word “Apostle”
In their language, an apostle is not just a high-class messenger.
What an “Apostle” does.
An apostle leads a group of people from their comfortable native land to some distant place where they set up a colony. Every leader is responsible first to feed and shelter these folks on their way, and then in the setting up of the new community.
Two Traits of an Apostle
An apostle, consequently, has two different traits. These two traits may identify you or me as sharing in their calling. Such character traits identify anyone – apostles, you and me – as humans worthy of being followed. An apostle is one people trust. This decisive individual will save their larger group from danger and disaster. The position may require physical heroism in combat with surrounding threats. It may require labor and planning to save the community from weather and starvation. Internal combustion of the group may require creative solutions to establish peace.
Jesus calls on Apostles to lead
A superior person or organization signs the task of apostle. This calling out requires the recognition of unusual capabilities. Not casually, we use the expression exceptional for an apostle. The higher ups of whatever sort discern that a chosen leader will rise to the occasion because of some great character traits.
Apostles care for communities
Although it is understood without talking about it and so neglected in the Gospels – apostles associate with, and attach to, communities. The twelve men – and later Christian literature shows this – echo the twelve tribes of Israel. These twelve tribes represent the entire Chosen People.
Down through the centuries, tradition will associate individual Apostles with places like India, Spain, Armenia, Phrygia, etc.
An apostle describes, therefore, a leader who establishes and preserves a new community. Eventually a leader leaves behind an independent community self-sustaining and productive.
The Importance Here
This Gospel message, perhaps, is inviting you and me to be successors to the Apostles and apostles ourselves. God has, perhaps, called you within your own heart to leadership. Or perhaps the leadership has grown as a trait among and about people around you.
Your life and example – certainly a perhaps – may be leading others to the life of Jesus. Perhaps Jesus is suggesting your apostleship as a commitment to the family of God.
In his letters, St. Paul calls people “saints.” By that he does not mean goodness so much as distinctiveness. Their humility, forgiveness, compassion, loving and equality make them distinctive, different! That is their saintliness!
The Gospels portray these men as not very holy or good. Impetuous and impatient, they fail to understand Jesus. They doubt and object to His message. All of them run away. Jesus does not mind that.
The Good News keeps reminding us we are flawed people. We are moving towards a fullness of grace, participating in a community for shortcoming folks. But we are saints.