August 26, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
The good news today comes from Mark 3:13-19.
He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: [he appointed the twelve:] Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary states, “This idea of being with Jesus is the basis of discipleship according to Mark.” That resonates with me. I have to be with Jesus in thought and prayer, in my heart and head to be his disciple. When I stray from his companionship is when I separate myself from God and from other people. When I isolate myself, I am the very opposite of what it means to be a disciple. Moloney in The Gospel of Mark believes, “This passage, set within a context of mission, shows that Jesus calls some to a physical closeness to his person so that they might do as he has done.”
He summons me to the mountain to be with him, to be his disciple. It is simply up to me to respond, to say yes, to move toward him, but it is Jesus who takes the initiative. He summons me to do what he does — spread the good news of God’s love and love others unconditionally as his disciple. Moloney writes, “[A]ll disciples will succeed or fail insofar as they are or are not ‘with Jesus.'” That brings me back to where I started — I have to be with him in thought and prayer, in my heart and head. I have to allow myself to be consumed by him, by the Holy Spirit, so that I can be an extension of him just as the first apostles. Moloney reiterates, “[T]he initiative of Jesus shows that the destiny of the disciple depends upon association with him.”
Judas may have been included as one of the Twelve to show starkly “the possibility of betrayal, failure, and sin even among the closest followers of Jesus,” according to Moloney. Failure is always a possibility for me and something I often experience. As long as I turn back to Jesus, to desire to be with him, I will be forgiven and re-commissioned as a disciple, spreading the good news of God’s love by acting lovingly. As Barclay says, “[T]he whole essence of Christianity was that it bound men to their fellows, and presented them with the task of living with each other and for each other….These twelve had all kinds of faults, but whatever else could be said about them, they loved Jesus and they were not afraid to tell the world that they loved him — and that is being a Christian.” At the end of my life I hope that Jesus will tell me that I have been a faithful Christian in that sense, a disciple with many faults and failings but one who loved him and wasn’t afraid to tell the world. How do I love him? By loving you, all of you.