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The mission of the Twelve

Gospel Reading: Lk 6:12-19
Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured. Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.

He chose twelve
The intimate group among Jesus’ followers is referred to as “the Twelve”. The number is symbolic, harping back to the twelve sons of Jacob, the foundation of the people of Israel. Now with the choice of the Twelve, Jesus begins the gathering of a new Israel – not just from the stock of Abraham but from all the nations of the earth.

The Twelve are also named Apostles, but for Luke and the early Christians, the “apostles” are not restricted to the Twelve. John does not call the Twelve Apostles because for John, “the Apostle” is Jesus – the one whom the Father “sent.” An “apostle” is an emissary or one who is sent, and so people who are sent by the community of believers are called “apostles.” Paul is an apostle because he is sent by the risen Christ. His traveling companions like Barnabas, Silas, Timothy – and Luke himself – are also apostles because they are sent by their communities to preach the Gospel.

The Twelve, however, are a unique group. Once the betrayer, Judas Iscariot, has been replaced by Matthias, the number is restored. But the Twelve will not have successors, strictly speaking, like having twelve men governing the Church.

In the Church, the bishops take the function of the Twelve in taking care of the flock. Hence, they are the “successors” of the Apostles.

“God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that he himself ‘became poor’ (2 Cor 8:9)” (Pope Francis).

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2016,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.