Friday, January 21, 2011

He Appointed the Twelve

H. Anderson, "Jesus Calling the Fishermen"
Jesus 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 (Mk 3:13-19).

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Eccl 3:1). As Creator of all things, the Lord has designated that all things have their purpose and season according to His plan. When Scripture speaks of something or someone as "appointed," the meaning conveyed is that certain elements or persons in His creation are chosen, named, or designated by Him for specific purposes.

As a survey of Sacred Scriptures shows, God also allows certain "appointed" people to have power and authority over their fellow human beings according to His purposes and plan. Those with earthly authority at times also appoint others to carry out certain duties and to represent the human authority in the carrying out of those duties. God's servants-- those whom God appoints-- almost always appoint others to share in the carrying out of God's will. But God alone as Creator has authority over time-- only He can "appoint" seasons, feasts, events, and the duration of one's life.

Remembering that all acts of appointment in Scripture have their purpose, we see that the Gospel specifically tells us why Jesus appointed these twelve men as Apostles. Their purpose was threefold:  

1.  That they might be with Him…
2.  That He might send them forth to preach…
3.  That they might have authority to drive out demons.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Apostles' Appointment:

551 From the beginning of his public life Jesus chose certain men, twelve in number, to be with him and to participate in his mission (Cf. Mk 3:13-19). He gives the Twelve a share in his authority and "sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal" (Lk 9:2). They remain associated forever with Christ's kingdom, for through them he directs the Church:

"As my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Lk 22:29-30).

Mark's Gospel tells us that Jesus "appointed the Twelve." The term, "the Twelve" tells us the sacred number of individuals chosen by the Lord, and even more importantly, of their unity under His authority. They did not nominate themselves as Apostles, and then go out to preach in their own names and to drive out demons under their own power. Becoming Apostles wasn't their idea at all, and in fact, Mark portrays them throughout the Gospel as men with little faith and understanding. Each of them individually and all of them as "the Twelve" were able to participate in the saving work of Jesus only by the power of the Holy Spirit.

1.  That they might be with Him.

God did not create us to keep Him company throughout eternity. When the Lord called the Twelve, it was not because He required the company or the assistance of men; rather, it was for their benefit, so that they might first come to know Him and to believe in Him and to love Him and to imitate Him. What an immense privilege, but no more so than what we enjoy, as we, too, are disciples of the Lord; as we also know Him because He still remains with us by the power of the Holy Spirit:  in His continued work accomplished in and through His Church, and bodily in the Eucharist.

2.  That He might send them forth to preach…

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Apostles' Mission:

858 Jesus is the Father's Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he "called to him those whom he desired; . . . . And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach" (Mk 3:13-14). From then on, they would also be his "emissaries" (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20:21; cf. 13:20; 17:18). The apostles' ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: "he who receives you receives me" (Mt 10:40; cf. Lk 10:16).

859 Jesus unites them to the mission he received from the Father. As "the Son can do nothing of his own accord," but receives everything from the Father who sent him, so those whom Jesus sends can do nothing apart from him (Jn 5:19, 30; cf. Jn 15:5), from whom they received both the mandate for their mission and the power to carry it out. Christ's apostles knew that they were called by God as "ministers of a new covenant," "servants of God," "ambassadors for Christ," "servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (2 Cor 3:6; 6:4; 5:20; 1 Cor 4:1).

860 In the office of the apostles there is one aspect that cannot be transmitted: to be the chosen witnesses of the Lord's Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church. But their office also has a permanent aspect. Christ promised to remain with them always. The divine mission entrusted by Jesus to them "will continue to the end of time, since the Gospel they handed on is the lasting source of all life for the Church. Therefore, . . . the apostles took care to appoint successors" (Lumen Gentium 20; cf. Mt 28:20).

On the continuation of the mission and work of the Apostles in the Church:

1086 "Accordingly, just as Christ was sent by the Father so also he sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This he did so that they might preach the Gospel to every creature and proclaim that the Son of God by his death and resurrection had freed us from the power of Satan and from death and brought us into the Kingdom of his Father. But he also willed that the work of salvation which they preached should be set in train through the sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 6).

1087 Thus the risen Christ, by giving the Holy Spirit to the apostles, entrusted to them his power of sanctifying (Cf. Jn 20:21-23): they became sacramental signs of Christ. By the power of the same Holy Spirit they entrusted this power to their successors. This "apostolic succession" structures the whole liturgical life of the Church and is itself sacramental, handed on by the sacrament of Holy Orders.

3.  That they might have authority to drive out demons.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Foundation of the Sacraments:

1506 Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn (Cf. Mt 10:38). By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service. He makes them share in his ministry of compassion and healing: "So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them" (Mk 6:12-13).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Signs of the Kingdom of God:

550 The coming of God's kingdom means the defeat of Satan's: "If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Mt 12:26, 28). Jesus' exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus' great victory over "the ruler of this world" (Jn 12:31; cf. Lk 8:26-39). The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ's cross: "God reigned from the wood" (Liturgy of the Hours, Lent, Holy Week, Evening Prayer, Hymn Vexilla Regis: "Regnavit a ligno Deus).

Among the Twelve appointed by Jesus was "Judas Iscariot who betrayed Him." But the Lord did not appoint Judas as His betrayer.  According to the Gospel, Judas was given the same mission and authority as the other eleven.  Like the others, Judas had the power to "cast out demons." But through his own free will, Judas chose to reject his appointment as an Apostle, and thereby to allow Satan to "enter into him" (Cf Lk 22:3; Jn 13:27).

The Catechism opens up the Scriptures to us. Read Scripture and the Catechism together daily!

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