Thursday, February 6, 2014

“Jesus of Nazareth always comes asking disciples to follow him--not merely "accept him," not merely "believe in him," not merely "worship him"

“Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous. When you have God, you don’t have to know everything about it; you just do it.” – Mother Angelica

Gospel Text: (MK 6:7-13)
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick
–no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Jesus called his apostles and they weren’t who we might consider to be likely candidates. Their weaknesses are so obvious as we read Scripture. But Jesus knew their hearts and their potential and knew what they could become and do for his kingdom. Jesus knows our potential and what we can do for his kingdom. Let us answer his call.

• 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. There was a saying at the University of Scranton where I went to school, “they were only in it for the beer”. In Mark 10:35 they ask Jesus, “Teacher we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Jesus didn’t say he would, he just asked them what they wanted. And then they made their big request, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” What confidence they had. And there was the time (Luke 9:53) when the Samaritans did not welcome the visitors Jesus sent ahead and James and John said, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” It is no wonder that they were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder.” (Mark 3:17)

• 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 was 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)

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 and by our spending time in prayer with the Lord we too can grow from strength to strength and accomplish great things for God and his kingdom.

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