Jesus makes clear to his Apostles that: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you”. This is no power play on Jesus’ part, just a way of asserting his authority. Only a few verses earlier we read that Jesus called his disciples friends. Jesus’ claim is a reminder that God is the center, initiator, and prime mover of all that exists. His disciples were invited to a deeper relationship with God through their participation in the life of Jesus. They lived and traveled with him, they were his closest companions during his public ministry. He guided, mentored, and taught his disciples the deposit of faith that he wanted them to pass on. And at the Feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, would empower them to do just that.
The Apostles were not chosen for their own sake. What they received from Jesus was not to be for themselves alone. What they were to pass on was no secret knowledge for a select few. Jesus appointed them “to go and bear fruit that will remain” (Jn 15:16). The Kerygma, the basic Gospel message to be proclaimed, was and still is to be for all the nations. By reading the Book of Acts, the second volume of the Gospel of Luke, we witness that the Apostles laid the foundation for that to happen. The core of the deposit of faith that has been passed on generation after generation and which we proclaim every Sunday in the Nicene Creed, is that we believe in one God; one Lord Jesus Christ who is consubstantial, of the same substance as the Father; one Holy Spirit, who with the Father and Son is adored and glorified; and one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We who call ourselves Christians, believers and followers of Jesus Christ, are part of a tradition in which each generation, each person is invited to encounter Jesus for him or her self time and time again. More than a people of the Book, we are a people of encounter. Jesus invites us each and every day to participate in his life and his mission to come to know him and through him to know his Father, our Father God. In the humanity that the Son of God assumed, he opened up heaven for us.
We have access to building a relationship with God through the Love of the Holy Spirit and in so doing we become sanctified, holy. This is not so we become front and center, for we like Peter are finite, human beings. It is so that when others see the service we offer, the love and joy we share, they will no longer see us, but Jesus, and so too can experience the pull of the invitation to come and know him.
Is the history of the Church from the time of Jesus perfect? No. Are we perfect? No. Are we worthy? No. But in surrendering our life to Jesus each day we become more and more conformed to him. We are being perfected through our participation in his life, such that we will experience a foretaste of heaven. We are chosen to go and bear fruit that will last. We are invited to receive and to share the love and life of Jesus. Let us ponder the wonder that we have been chosen to receive and share the love and forgiveness of Jesus on this Lord’s Day, and be willing to serve him as we serve one another, with our thoughts, words, and actions embodied with his love, joy, and mercy.
Photo: Replica of the San Damiano Cross (National Shrine of St Francis of Assisi, San Francisco, CA) before which St Francis heard Jesus tell him to go and rebuild his Church. What is Jesus asking of us?