The Strange and Ordinary Are Called

22 January 2005: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Mark 1, 14-20: The Call of the Disciples

The Gospel tells us of how Jesus chose his disciples. It is interesting to see why Jesus chose them, because it is for the same reasons that Jesus needs us today.

First, the Gospel of Mark tells us that he chose them that they might be with him. It means two things.

a. To be his friends. Jesus needs human relationships. The essence of Christian faith is actually God wanting us to His friend. In Exodus, God calls the people of God, his friends. Jesus calls said, “You are not anymore slaves, but my friends.”

b. To continue the work he has began. Since the disciples spent time with Jesus, the disciples were then asked them to be his witnesses. Their lives become living testimonies of his work. They were to be his companions so that some day they will be able to take his message to all peoples.

Second, Jesus chose them from his disciples. The word disciple means a learner. There were to be those who were always learning more and more about him. A Christian is a person whose whole life is spent learning about the Lord who eventually teaches about him. They say that those who say that they love someone, but do not know them --- e.g. biodata, likes and dislikes, etc. --- is a liar.

Third, Jesus chose them to be his apostles. The Greek word, apostolos, means someone who is sent out. And thus, an apostle is send out on a mission; to embody the person who he is sent.

Who are thus sent?

First the apostles like Simon Peter, James, John, and Andrew were ordinary persons. They were not wealthy, famous, influential, learned, no special education, people of the common folk. It is like Jesus telling us, “Give me twelve ordinary men and I will change the world.”

Second, they were a strange mixture. Matthew was a tax-collector, Simon was a zealot. The tax collectors were working under the Roman government, while the Zealots were fanatical nationalists who were out to assassinate every Roman and every traitor such as the tax collectors. It is a miracle that these two were together, and it is safe to imagine them quarrel over political prejudices. It is the love of Jesus that they were brought together, and live together, and work together for the Kingdom of God. I guess each of these disciples despite their varied personalities all had a "good news" experience.

We too have these 'good news' experiences that makes us happy. When people who came to mass during the bar examinations received the news that they have passed, they felt that they were walking on clouds. One lawyer said that she gave P100.00 bills to children whom she saw while telling them that she is now a lawyer. Or the day when the person you're courting tells you that she loves you too. Or, when one sees a celebrity. Or a prisoner is released. Or a medical procedure has been successful. We feel that all else are insignificant, and only this thing matters. We hardly noticed the rain or the traffic or problem previously bugging us.

Thus, this is the Good News: all of us---- ordinary or famous, learned or not --- are called to become Jesus’ disciples. We all possess the capacity to be his friend. As disciples, all we need is to learn about him through Scriptures and our constant prayers. And as Christ’s apostles, we should remember that all of us are called to preach the Good News through our lives.

*picture by Neo Saicon SJ

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