SENDING THE TWELVE – July 15, 2012 – Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
SENDING THE TWELVE
July 15, 2012
Current television shows emphasize the choosing of one or other person from a group of aspirants. The game show “Wheel of Fortune” has chosen three contestants from, supposedly, a larger, off-camera, bunch, and these three selected candidates compete for the final round in which large monies are possible. In other TV shows, the selected receive a spotlight, and after a rather brutal denying of some, one person survives to claim a prize.
Jesus summons those whom He has selected. These Jesus Himself has wanted. These twelve will advance His own teaching. Recently I received a summons to act as juror in the Kitsap county court system. “Summons” has an authoritative ring. We may ask: Who are these men whom Jesus now authoritatively summons?
In the first place, we know their names. 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 Alpheus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
Next, Jesus sends them in pairs, two by two. The scripture requires two witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6), and this assures validity; indeed, in our day more than one witness gives strength to any assertion. These pairs will speak about the kingdom of God; no charismatic person should go for the sake of personal enhancement; we do not have a Donald Trump braggart. Jesus sends agents. Theoretically, elected representatives in Olympia and in Washington, D.C., represent us. Actually, these Apostles do represent Jesus. And the gospel has a sound here of official events. Jesus acts with a degree of care and of form, for He personally authorizes them.
In the next place, we hear what these selected and summoned are to do. They should proclaim a message of repentance. John the Baptist had proclaimed in the manner described by Isaiah:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
He will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths (Mark 1:2-3).
“And the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). Like the Baptist, Jesus Himself urges repentance (Mark 1:14-15). And these representatives should herald the kingdom of God, that is, they should speak of the Lord, not, indeed, of a place, but reigning over minds and hearts. They should speak as Jesus speaks of a Messiah, of union with the Messiah, of other than the secular reality, lasting, life fulfilling and everlasting life, and in which a person embraces the rule of God. The Lord has announced that the kingdom of God is a present reality (Luke 17:20 ff.), now in our midst.
So that their speaking may better galvanize the people in the cities and in the villages, Christ endows them with “authority over unclean spirits.” These apostles—the term means “the sent ones”—should heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out devils (Matthew 10:8).
These events occur as Jesus moves about Judea and Galilee. These apostles “went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (Mark 6:13). The apostles might act, not all at once, but at various times.
Where, we may inquire, where did the Apostles go? They should not go among the Gentiles and the Samaritans, for it is not yet the turn of pagans and foreigners. The Jews as heirs of the divine promises enjoy, as far as the Gospel is concerned, a right of priority which it is proper to respect. They should go to the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 10: 6).
To which villages the Apostles travel we have no record. However, we know where some went just after Pentecost. Peter and John, together, traveled to Samaria, and there they strengthened the recent converts to Christianity. Silas and Jude received a commission to promulgate the faith among the Christian communities of Syria and Cilicia. Paul and Barnabas eventually were charged with carrying to Jerusalem the alms of the community of Antioch, and later these two defended the Gentiles.
These Apostles should continue Jesus’ own work. They should go throughout Israel, saying what Jesus has said: The Kingdom of heaven has drawn near (Matthew 10:7). They are to do what Jesus did: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons” (Matthew 10:8). Thus the mission of the Twelve to Israel is the continuation and prolongation of Jesus’ mission.
Because urgency requires it, Jesus charges these representatives to travel light (Mark 6:8-9). Their only resource will be the authority that they have received from Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus charges them to accept whatever hospitality is offered them when they enter a village and not to go shopping about for better accommodations. This discipline will focus their energies—stirring up people to God among us.
The command to shake off the dust against those who will not receive their message is a reminder that we are responsible for our obedience in mission, but not for the response of others or for results. We are not to force ourselves on other people or to assume responsibility for their decision. Although their decision and response bears seriousness, still it is God’s mission, and it is our neighbor’s decision.
Jesus extends His reach by sending these Twelve. The Lord calls you and me to be Apostles in this unchurched State. Our living must witness our faith. Amen.