SATURDAY, TWENTY NINTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles
Eph 2: 19-22; Ps 19: 2-5; Lk 6: 12-16
WE ARE CALLED AND SENT FORTH IN MISSION
Jude is one of the twelve Apostles whose name is mentioned both in Luke’s Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles. He is called Thaddeus in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Biblical Scholars think that Jude and Thaddeus are the same person. Not much is known about him, and no further information is mentioned about him in the Scriptures.
Simon’s name is mentioned by all the four Evangelists. In two of the Gospels, he is referred to as the Zealot. He probably belonged to a Jewish sect that promoted extreme Jewish nationalism, their resistance was always with violence. They never conformed to their understanding of religious orthodoxy. The messianic promise of the Old Testament meant that the Jewish state was a free and independent nation. It was not to be under the dominion of the Romans. God alone was their King. Payment of taxes or any dealings with the Romans was considered blasphemy against God. The sacred scriptures are silent about Simon’s activities as a Zealot.
The readings chosen for the feast give the names of the twelve apostles. Jesus goes to the mountain, to pray and to be alone with his Father. Jesus responds to his rejection by the religious leaders. He publicly selects and commissions a group of twelve to carry on his universal mission. In Lk 22:30, we see that Jesus’ idea to renew the twelve tribes of the covenant community of Israel. In Lk 5:38, Jesus has already made known that the new wine needs new skins. Since the present/old Israel was not ready to accept the Gospel, Jesus looked to establish a new Israel that was repentant and renewed. In Acts 1:13, we see the names of the twelve being mentioned again.
The number twelve could also be derived from the twelve constellations in the Zodiac. At that time, the heavens were spoken of as the realm of God. The number twelve probably represented universality from a heavenly perspective; universality as willed by God. This was also foretold by the prophet Jeremiah (cf. Jer 31:31) when God would establish the New Covenant with His people. In Lk 5:3-11, the Evangelist has already introduced Simon named Peter, the rock. Similarly in Lk 5:10 James and John are introduced. The remaining nine are introduced here for the first time. When the Evangelist introduces Simon for the second time as the Zealot, he is probably using the term to introduce Simon as one zealous for the Law. Judas, the last named, is called ‘Iscariot’, which could be he, who hands him over (that is, the betrayer). The twelve are called to be Jesus’ disciples and his apostles. They are to share in Jesus’ universal mission. In the first reading, we also are invited to Jesus’ universal mission as “fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household.”
Jesus went off to pray. Luke always portrays Jesus in prayer before any major turning point in the Gospel. Choosing the Twelve apostles is clearly an important moment. Jesus “prays through the night to God” before making his choice. In our very own lives, are we able to spend time in prayer before we are to make important decisions? In the Gospel of Luke, we are called to follow Jesus. In the Book of Acts, the early church continues to do what Jesus did during his ministry. Jesus is seen in prayer throughout his ministry. He teaches his disciples to pray. He invites them to understand that their life is first defined by a relationship with God. God’s visitation to His people in the Gospel of Luke is a revelation of His loving kindness to all. We are invited to carry His message to all. We can only follow Jesus, when we build a relationship with Him in prayer.
God chooses whomever he desires. Our calling does not depend on our merits or achievements, but entirely on God’s initiative and His grace. Israel was called to be God’s chosen people, to live a life, as a contrast community among the nations that surrounded them. Similarly, we too are called to be God’s witnesses as salt and light in the world. Our life in the community is to be one of service. What is our response today as God calls us, blesses us and sends us forth in mission?
Response: Their sound goes forth through all the earth.
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