Tag Archives: disciples

As Lambs Among Wolves

In the gospels read at Mass this week, from the 10th chapter of Matthew, Jesus sends the Twelve on a mission. They have a restricted mission: “Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.” (Matthew 10, 1)

They have authority over unclean spirits and can cure every kind of disease, important gifts, but they haven’t received power to teach yet. That will come after Jesus’ resurrection.They’re also told not to go into pagan territory or Samaritan towns. but to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

They’re on a restricted mission.

The evangelists differ. In Luke’s gospel, read last Sunday, Jesus not only sends the twelve, but seventy two others. No restrictions are given them. Go to every town and place I intend to visit, Jesus says to them.

In both gospels, the disciples are told to have no walking stick, no traveling bag, no sandals.. They’re not promised economic security or assurance they’ll be received well and their mission will be successful.

Ministry will never be easy, under any circumstances. It will always be “as lambs among wolves.” Ministry changes as times and circumstances change, but whatever the time and circumstances, we’re sent.

What are we called to do today? Something must be done today, something we don’t see. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And Jesus repeatedly says, “Don’t be afraid to do it.”

His

The Call of the Disciples

DSC00036 After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Then they left their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

Mark’s account of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee is as succinct as his account of his baptism and temptation. John has been arrested. Not a good time, in human thinking, to begin a ministry. Herod Antipas, arresting John and ready to behead him, rules in Galilee. Better wait, we would say.

But this is God’s time, different from ours. The Good News is God’s message, not ours. Jesus does not expand on what God’s Kingdom is but one thing we know– God will act according to his plan, not ours. One thing we know: it is at hand now, and Jesus comes to fulfill it. “Your will be done,” Jesus taught in the Our Father. We’re asking for something bigger than what we think God’s will is.

The call of the four fisherman, Peter, Andrew, James and John occurs by the Sea of Galilee. For the Jews the sea, like the wilderness, was a dangerous place; storms unsettled it; unpredictable winds made it fearful. To them, even an inland body of water twelve miles long and six miles wide was something to be wary of. Still, they made a living on it, but being called by God by the sea was a dangerous sign.

Jesus says simply, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark’s Gospel sees the four fishermen having a lot to learn to be fishers of men. They’re slow to understand his call. Later on, twelve would be called, (Mark 3,13-19), still later their ministry would be explained. (Mark 6,7-13)

The learning never stops. This was not something you learn in a book, or by yourself. “I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus said. “Come away by yourselves and rest awhile,” he said to his disciples who returned to him with reports of all they had done. (Mark 6,30ff) Every disciple learns what the call means from him and for her.

photo

Unprepared

by Orlando Hernandez

This Wednesday’s Gospel is from the section of Luke’s Chapter 14 that tells about what will be demanded of a follower of Jesus. I wonder how many people remained in the “Great crowds” after hearing what Jesus expected of them!

“ and He turned and addressed them, ‘If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.’” (Lk 14:25-27)

Jesus goes on to tell them of the builder, and the king marching into battle who do not have what it takes to succeed. What does it take to make it as a disciple of Christ? How does a disciple of Christ keep his or her “taste” like good salt? (Lk 14: 34-35) The Lord says in todays Gospel: “everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14: 33)

The Lord presents these challenges all over the Gospel of Luke. For example: in chapter 9: 57-62, The Conditions of Discipleship; in chapter 8: 11-15, The Parable of the Sower; in chapter 6: 20-26, the Sermon on the Plain; and in chapter 18: 18-30, the story of the rich official who wants to follow Him. After the rich official leaves disappointed, the disciples ask Jesus: “Then who can be saved?”

Over the last few weeks I have been talking with leaders of prayer groups, evangelization brotherhoods, Knights of Columbus, Passionist Associate Directors. At some point or another they would complain sadly about how the majority of the members are not coming to the meetings. Their excuses are similar to those cited by the Gospel: “I had to work late at the business.”, “My husband wants me home.”, “I have to take the kids to soccer.”, “I’m so tired, the boss is giving me a hard time.”, and so on….. The initial enthusiasm , the taste of salt, seems to be fading, the light on the lamp stand getting dimmer. I often find myself falling into this darkening. Please Lord, don’t let me go!

How exclusive, really, is this fellowship with the Lord? What are the requirements after all? To be invited to the Feast of the Lord it seems to help to be part of “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” (Lk 14:15-24) In the next chapter (Lk 15) we see that perhaps if you realize that you are lost in the night like that little sheep, then the Shepherd will come for you with great joy and love. Or, if you see your total poverty and foolishness, and feel true repentance, the Father will come running down the road to embrace you!

This is so much beyond my understanding. When I knew that I could not live without the Beautiful One who had revealed Himself to me, I jumped head long into His arms, without realizing what I was getting into. Was I like the unprepared builder, the understaffed king, the seed in rocky, or thorny ground? I imagine so. I have given up a lot for Him, but I fail Him so many times. I cling to so many pleasures and possessions: “What would I do without my retirement pension, or my health? I adore my grandchildren, my wife.”

Perhaps my mistake lies in that use of the word “my”. None of these things are really mine. As Christians, most of us eventually will understand that all these wonderful things are really not ours, but His, blessed be His most merciful heart! Actually, most of the people in our planet are lacking them. He tells everyone in today’s Gospel to “carry his own cross and come after me”. Come where? Where else but Calvary itself, where He lost everything, even His life. We are all headed there. Through aging, loss, or misfortune, sooner or later we will understand the total poverty of our situation. The only treasure we have is Him, not because we deserve this treasure, but because He loves us so much.

Orlando Hernandez

The Fear of Death

Great mysteries are expressed and deep truths revealed in these days between Easter and the Ascension, St. Leo the Great says in a sermon:

“In those days the fear of death was removed with all its terrors, and the immortality not only of the soul but also of the flesh was established.”

To remove the fear of death, keep your eyes on the two disciples on the way to Emmaus whom Jesus accompanied “to sweep away all the clouds of our uncertainty.”

“He reproached them for the slowness of their timid and trembling hearts. Their enlightened hearts catch the flame of faith, and lukewarm as they have been, they are made to burn while the Lord unfolds the Scriptures. In the breaking of bread also their eyes are opened as they eat with him. How much more blessed is that opening of their eyes, to the glorification of their nature, than the time when our first parents’ eyes were opened to the disastrous consequences of their transgression.”

Keep your eyes on all the disciples at this time, the saint says: “the most blessed Apostles and all the disciples, who had been both bewildered at his death on the cross and backward in believing his Resurrection, were so strengthened by the clearness of the truth that when the Lord entered the heights of heaven, not only were they affected with no sadness, but were even filled with great joy.”