Gospel: Luke 6:12-16
Jesus went out into the hills to pray; and he spent the whole night in prayer to God. When day came, he summoned his disciples and picked out twelve of them; he called them ‘apostles’: Simon whom he called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot who became a traitor.
Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon, Jude and Judas: the Twelve. Except for Judas, these men would bring the Good News to the ends of the earth. We proudly call ourselves members of the apostolic Church, and yet, if we are honest, do we ever find ourselves thinking about these men?True, as Catholics, we often talk about Peter when thinking about the pope; as Scots, we think often about his brother Andrew; as Catholics who go to Mass regularly, we might even find ourselves thinking about John and Matthew the evangelists. However, do we ever think about each of these men as members of an all-important community?
Last week, I watched the relatively new film ‘Risen’, starring Joseph Fiennes. The film follows the story of Pontius Pilate’s tribune, the soldier tasked with finding the apparently stolen body of Jesus. What I found most enjoyable – if not a little surprising – was not that the film remains faithful to the Gospel message (Jesus does indeed rise from the dead), but that for the first time, I was confronted with the very human community of the apostles. These men, and the wider community of early disciples, are confronted with persecution from the moment that the discovery of an empty tomb is made. They face imprisonment and more, and yet they are not afraid. From the time that they encounter Jesus, no earthly power can deter them from spreading the Good News of the Resurrection.
It made me think. We are confronted with the Risen Christ daily in the Eucharist; are we as joyful in our faith as these earliest Christians were? If not, then why not? Our society is no doubt different, but it is no more hostile to the Gospel than that of the apostles. The Successor of Peter said as much to the seminarians of the Pontifical Scots College in April of this year, at a private audience in the Vatican.
Like those men whom Jesus called apostles, Christ has called us, and He has sent us out. We have a responsibility to bring Him to the world in our daily lives. This responsibility, however, cannot be understood as something that weighs down on us. To be effective evangelists, we must live in that joy of the Gospel that Simon, Jude and the other apostles experienced.
Christ is risen, and He lives. It is our duty and our privilege to go out and tell the world.