Thursday, October 27, 2016

"HE CHOSE TWELVE."


Homily for Oct. 28th, 2016: Luke 6:12-16.
 From his disciples, we heard in the gospel, Jesus chose twelve. Why twelve? Because God’s people was composed of twelve tribes. Jesus was establishing a new people of God. The twelve men Jesus chose to lead his new people were undistinguished. If they had one common quality it was mediocrity. About most of them we have only legends. And the lists of names in the different gospels don’t even agree in all cases.
He calls these mostly quite ordinary men “apostles.” What is an apostle? The word means ‘one who is sent’ – like an ambassador, sent to another country to represent his country, and especially the head of state who sends him.
Who are today’s apostles? One answer is “the bishops.” We call them the successors of the apostles. Each one of them must have been ordained bishop by at least one previous bishop who is, as the books say, “in the apostolic succession.” That means that he too must have been ordained by a bishop who received his sending from a bishop who can trace his call back to one of the twelve originally sent out by Jesus and named today’s gospel.
In baptism and confirmation, however, Jesus has also sent each one of us to be his apostles, his messengers. How do we do that? You probably know St. Francis of Assisi’s answer to this question. “Preach always,” Francis said. “When necessary, use words.” How wise that is. Personal example is always more powerful than words. “What you are,” someone said, “speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” And Pope Paul VI said the same when he wrote: “People today listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers. And if they do listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.
So what are we? In baptism we were made God’s sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, and heirs of his kingdom. The whole of our Christian life, therefore – all our prayers, sacrifices and good works -- are not a striving after high and distant ideals that constantly elude us. They are efforts to live up to what in baptism, we have already become. We come here, therefore, to receive, at these twin tables of word and sacrament, the inspiration and strength to be messengers of God’s love, and bringers of his light, to a dark and mostly unbelieving world.