Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”’
As you go, proclaim the good news.
At the end of every service of Holy Communion there are these words of dismissal: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord, or Go in the peace of Christ. These alternative endings have one key word in common: ‘Go!’ However, if we pause and think about what usually happens at this moment you might be forgiven for wondering why the priest bothered with these exciting and energising words. Rather than engaging with this commission and rushing off to proclaim the Good News through love and service, almost everyone sits or kneels again. As they sit or kneel they look about wondering when they might acceptably get up and share the tittle-tattle of daily life. The service is ended, and that’s that!
Today’s reading reminds us of the force and vitality of the words of dismissal used at the end of our communion services. Jesus gathered twelve ordinary men around him. Those close companions were both disciples and apostles. As apostles they were charged with proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, just as we are charged to go and proclaim that same Good News.
Like the twelve companions of Jesus we are enriched with his teaching. We draw close to him in prayer. We are fed with the divine food that empowers us to love and serve as he did when he walked this earth. But, there is a question we all need to ponder. Jesus’ first disciples were taught by Jesus, just as they prayed and ate with him, and then they responded with joy and an enthusiastic sharing of the Good News. As they were commissioned by Jesus to go and proclaim, their first response was not to sit down and think about it. They got up and went.
There is, of course, a great physicality in the response of Jesus’ disciples. For some that physicality is not possible. But we live in a different time. We live in a time when we are presented with many different ways of proclaiming the Good News. It is our responsibility to set aside our hesitancy and get on with it!
Let us pray that we might hear Jesus’ call in our lives and respond in joy. Let us pray that we might feel the power of the Holy Spirit rushing through our minds and bodies. Let us pray that we might go and proclaim the good news!