Today’s gospel story has to be the most underwhelming account in the bible. Here you have one of the most significant events in the New Testament and it is presented as all so much “ho, hum”.
Jesus calls his disciples together, who knows how many that was, say twenty-five of so, and from them selects the 12 apostles. “And from them he chose the Twelve, whom he also named Apostles which was a good thing, because if He had not then we would not know what to call them. To this day they would have been know as the 12 guys that Jesus named.
But that was it, all that it says is that he came down and names the 12. Then He went about His normal day in a “A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people” who “came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases”.
You would have thought that this had been a bigger deal. Maybe something like the Pro Football draft. You know, a large room with a bunch of people and all of the disciples waiting to see who was going to be chosen.
The thing is that there were a number of differences between this selection and our typical media event. First was the fact that Jesus had know since before tome that these twelve would be His Apostles. He knew everyone by name and character. He knew what they would do and how they would come to serve. Every one, there was not one surprise in the lot.
The second was that only Jesus knew what was in store for them. Perhaps if they knew then what they know now that might have given the selection a second thought and maybe not. Did you know that tradition has it that every one of these 12 dies a terrible death except for one? It is believed that John lived to a natural death, but it was not for lack of his enemies trying. It is said that he survived being submerged in boiling oil.
The word Apostle comes from the Greek words, apo, meaning from and setllo meaning sent forth. So to be an apostle they were called to be sent froth. And they were in fact sent forth. Peter went to Rome, Thomas and Matthias went to Syria, Bartholomew went to Ethiopia, Andrew went to what is now parts of Russia.
And the last difference was that they were not going to get rich on this calling. You can almost see Peter running home to tell his wife and mother-in-law that he was going to be an Apostle only tp be asked if it paid well.
Just to recap, they were chosen without anyone asking if this is what they wanted. The job meant a certain horrible death and there was basically no pay. No wonder He could only get 12 to sign up.
But wait a minute, aren’t we called in a similar way? Maybe not the horrible death part but think about the rest. Think of John 15:16, “you did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” So maybe we also don’t have a choice, but that last part makes it sound like the benefits are good.
What about the verse in first Peter 2:22, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” See, we were also sent forth, maybe to follow in His step but sent forth none the less.
And we have little to no choice in the matter. Like the original 12 our calling was ordained from the beginning of time, “He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. 2 Timothy 1:9.
Maybe it is fitting that today’s gospel does not make a big deal of the appointment of the 12 apostles. Now that I think about it, something flashy would have been out of place. And perhaps something flashy would have made our calling somehow feel less important. After all we were all called to be apostles. We were all called to be sent forth and, to my knowledge, there wasn’t a major fanfare for anyone of us.
I chose you from the world,
That you may go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
LK 6:12 – 19
Jesus departed to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.
When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground.
A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people
from all Judea and Jerusalem
and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon
came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases;
and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured.
Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him
because power came forth from him and healed them all.
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