Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning

“Far better it is for you to say: "I am a sinner," than to say: "I have no need of religion." The empty can be filled, but the self-intoxicated have no room for God.”  - Fulton J. Sheen

(Gospel text: Mt 10:1-7)
Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.
The names of the Twelve Apostles are these:
first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew;
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
Philip and Bartholomew,
Thomas and Matthew the tax collector;
James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus;
Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot
who betrayed Jesus.

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
"Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.
Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"

What a motley bunch they were, those Twelve whom Jesus called.

Jesus chose Peter. Peter later denied Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest (Matt 26:69-75). He wasn’t faithful. He lacked the courage to take a stand in public. Also he was impetuous and would say and do things without thinking.

Jesus chose Andrew, Peter’s brother. In John 6:9, before the multiplication of the loaves and fish Andrew said to Jesus, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Andrew would still have much to learn about Jesus.

Jesus called James and John. They were in a boat mending nets with their father Zebedee. Immediately they left everything and followed Jesus leaving their father in the boat. (Matt 4:21) But we discover later they were following Jesus for the wrong reason, they were looking for their own glory. “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” In college we had a saying, that they were only in it for the beer. 


Jesus called Bartholomew but we know no more about him. He is mentioned as one of the Twelve but we are not told anything he said or did. (Matt 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13)  Perhaps he was a timid man of few words who struggled to overcome shyness.  

Jesus called Matthew (Matt 9:9). Matthew had a past, he was a tax-collector before Jesus called him. If he were like any of the other tax collectors he would have collected a lot more in taxes from people than he returned to Rome. We can guess that Matthew would have had enemies, many of them.

Jesus called Thomas. But he would only believe in the resurrection of Jesus if he could put his fingers into the wounds the nails made and put his hand into Jesus’ side. (John 20:25) Thomas lacked faith. Where was Thomas on that first Easter Sunday evening? Why wasn’t he with the other apostles?

Jesus called Simon the Zealot. (Luke 6:15) Zealots wanted to achieve Palestinian independence from Roman occupation using military means. Simon did not know that violence achieves nothing but only encourages more violence. He would have much to learn.

Jesus called Judas Iscariot. He later plotted behind Jesus’ back. (Matt 26:14-15) He wanted to force Jesus to bring about his kingdom. He wanted the kingdom on his terms instead of Jesus’ terms. He complained when Jesus’ feet were anointed not because he wanted to give that money to the poor but so that he could steal it for himself. (John 12:4-6)

Do you realize apart from Judas, they all became great men of God!

Today Jesus calls us. Like Peter we lack faith. Like Andrew we have much to learn. Like James and John we are selfish sometimes. Like Matthew we have a past. Like Thomas we doubt sometimes. Seeing that the apostles of limited competence did so much for the Church gives confidence to us. If Jesus could use them he can certainly use us. With the intercession of Jesus for us at the right hand of the Father, by our spending time in prayer, and participating in the Sacraments frequently (Eucharist & Confession) we too can grow from strength to strength and accomplish great things for God and his kingdom.

Believe it, but if you still don't, read about 12 "regular guys" some 2000 years ago that people today are still taking about!

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