Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot
Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I bring myself into your presence knowing the zeal of your heart for souls. The glory of your heavenly Father can shape my own heart. I am confident that, just as the Twelve lit the flame of their love for their mission from the furnace of your divine love, I can ignite all that is lukewarm and tepid in my own soul today. I desire to fulfill more perfectly the mission you have given me.
Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to be generous and trustful concerning your plan for me.
- Jesus Needs Apostles: A condition for the Kingdom to grow is that it have protagonists. Christ refuses to be a one-man show. We honor and bow before the divine choice expressed in Christ’s desire to let his victory be realized through others, beginning with the Twelve. In the Twelve we find the model of every call of Christ to build his Kingdom, to spread the faith by word and deed. If there is no response to his call, there is no Kingdom. Have I meditated on my call often? Do I see it linked to my family and to my workplace? Have I responded to it?
- The Calling: Many were on the mountain that day. Many were drawn to him and longed to be close to him, but only 12 received the explicit call to be Apostles. The sense of predilection is in every vocation and every mission from God. What we are chosen for in life, no one else can fulfill it. We are called by name, meaning that Christ knows us well when he calls, including all our defects and weaknesses. He did not ask the Twelve for their preferences, look at their SAT scores, or scrutinize their résumés. The choice of God, revealed in prayer, is sovereign and omnipotent in action. The Twelve cannot think there has been some mistake or some miscalculation. The voice of God, who neither deceives nor can be deceived, is speaking.
- A Free Response: Christ called freely, and in freedom the Twelve responded. He did not bring down angels from heaven to overwhelm them to cooperate, he merely prayed to the Father. As Lord of the harvest, he has called each one of us. Our vocation as an apostle, is not a question of our wanting to be one. It is not a question of our talents or compelling feelings for this or that, but of our faith-driven awareness of God asking and our responding. Why are we where we are now in our vocation in life? In our particular marriage? In a particular lay movement? We can never know fully, for only God knows the depths of his own wisdom. This is the first mystery of the Kingdom that touches each one of us personally: God called, he willed it, and we said “yes.” This is the only answer an apostle must seek. Anything else slows down the mission and interrupts the dialogue of love and service to the mission.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to affirm that all my work today is going to be my response to your call to be your disciple and a light to others in this world. I resolve never to doubt the special and perfect nature of your plan for me. May my heart always be confident and generous in responding to your voice.
Resolution: I will take the hardest part of my day and embrace it with greater joy out of love for the one who has called me.