Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him (Mk 3:13).
Through the centuries mountains have been sites where people have gone to rise above their daily experiences, to rise above the clouds, where the air is crisper, cleaner. It is a means of gaining a new perspective, transcending the human to touch the spiritual, and possibly hearing the voice of God. When one of the Gospel writers inserts the detail that Jesus is present on a mountain, we can be prepared that something significant is going to happen.
In today’s Gospel of Mark, the good news revealed to us is that Jesus calls to himself the Twelve, the Apostles, to preach and cast out demons. They are to continue the ministry of Jesus. These are not perfect men, but each will have a part to play in salvation history. Jesus will entrust them with the deposit of faith that they are to protect, yes, but more so to proclaim. Apostle means one who is sent.
Jesus will continue to call the Twelve to himself, to teach, mentor, model, and empower them so they will continue his mission to call people to repent and believe in the Gospel. Even though, especially through the Gospel of Mark, it often looks as if Jesus may have made a mistake in his choice. The Twelve consistently have trouble understanding who Jesus really is, and when Jesus needs them most, Judas will turn him over to the Temple guards, the others flee at his arrest, and Peter will publicly deny him three times. It will not be until after the Resurrection and Ascension that the seeds that Jesus had sowed in them would begin to germinate and bear fruit.
Just as Jesus called the Twelve, he calls us as well. Each generation must experience and embrace the deposit of faith that has been given to us and pass it on to the next. Are we perfect, no. Do we have doubts, fears, weaknesses, yes. Does God call us and love us anyway? Yes. Like each Apostle, we are to go out and proclaim the good news that Jesus is our Lord! We do this daily with our words, faces, and actions. We think, look, speak, and act in ways that are kind, empowering, uplifting, and convicting while at the same time resisting the temptation to fix others. We are to strive to bear witness, be present, accompany and guide one another.
We all have much on our plate, some of us to overflowing. We may be thinking I cannot possibly do one more thing. Start small by bringing God into whatever we are already doing. He will give us the tools and accompany us as we seek to fulfill his will. As did the Apostles, we will make mistakes, make false starts, trip, fall, sin, and deny opportunities to reach out to be a witness. When we commit any or all of the above, we must resist beating ourselves up and instead learn from the experience, lean into Jesus, seek his forgiveness, and with him prepare better for the next apostolic opportunity.
Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he would send. Are we worthy of this same call? Probably not, for all of us fall short of the glory of God. Are we willing? That is a question for each of us to answer today and each day hereafter.
Photo: Hiking to the heights, Mohawk Trail, MA., around 1983-84