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.”’
Jesus said to the disciples: As you go, proclaim the good news.
This short quotation from today’s reading contains two far-reaching commands. Jesus said: As you go … In these three words Jesus makes it clear that we are called to step outside of the comfortable worlds we create for ourselves and live the life of an apostle, a messenger. Then Jesus said: Proclaim the good news. The Good News of which he speaks is the message of the gospel, the story of God stepping into this world in order that He might renew the ancient covenant between himself and the whole of humanity.
As we live out our daily lives we increasingly seek for and value that which we call security. We want the comfort of a home we can call our own, the companionship of family and friends, and sufficient financial resources to ensure that we do not go without necessities such as food, or luxuries such as a car and holidays. But, that desire for security runs contrary to the message in today’s reading. Today we read the names of twelve ordinary men who set aside all of that ‘security’ in order that they might ‘go’ and serve Jesus, proclaiming the good news far and wide.
Of course, our desire for the creature comforts of this world is not only rooted in our domestic lives. We apply the same working principles to the way in which we live out our Christian faith. Churches are not allowed to grow and flourish because there is a fear of change. Proclaiming the Good News is put on permanent hold in case we are ridiculed by friends and neighbours. Acts of Christian love are limited to those which will not compromise the security we have created for ourselves and our families.
In today’s readings the disciples are each named. Jesus knows them as individuals. Jesus names us as his disciples as well. He knows each and every one of us as the individuals he created. The question for us is whether, like those first disciples, we are prepared to step outside of our zones of personal security and go as apostles into the world, and whether, as we go, we are ready to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray that we might join the ranks of those who have accepted that challenge down the ages, and not remain entrenched in our self-delusory, self-indulgent and self-made worlds.