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The good news for the day January 20, 2017

Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time (315)

Jesus went up the mountain (suggestive of Moses and Sinai) and called out those whom he had selected—and they came to him. He appointed Twelve, whom he designated “Apostles,” that they might stay with him in his travels, and he would send them out to preach to others, and to have the power to overcome addictive, demonic habits. He appointed these Twelve: Simon, whom He Himself had nicknamed Peter (Rocky); James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, the two of whom he nicknamed Boanerges, that is, “sons of thunder;” Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James Alphaeusson; Thaddeus, Simon the foreigner from Canaan, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. (Mark 3)

Familiarity breeds contempt—is the familiar saying. We easily forget that these “apostles” were real people—men with families and children, men with problems and worries, men with flaws, ambitions and habits. We know Peter was passionate, weak, and too quick. We know the brothers James and John as vindictive, ambitious—but loyal. James is perhaps the one who became the leader in Jerusalem as Paul and Peter went out to preach and establish communities. We associate Matthew with tax-collecting; he was a rich man. Thomas became known as a “doubter”—someone more independent than the others.  `                 

The point for reflection is that possibly these “twelve,” these special deputies and “designated hitters” for Jesus may not have been what our imagination first pictures—giants of oratory and persuasion, changing lives and expelling demons. Maybe—in the end—we might do better to think of them as husbands and fathers—who did their job, but tried to preach compassion and forgiveness, humility and simplicity, hunger for justice, patience and quiet prayer—a life style by living it. Picture perhaps more accurately these individuals practicing the saying of St. Francis—“Preach—and sometimes use words.” They took responsibility for their private lives—and in their living, they preached the Way of Jesus. 

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