The Call

Mark 3: 13-19
1Sam 24: 3-21 / Ps 57

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him.
(Mark 3:13)

Chant His praise across the nation!
Let His Good News be heard by all!
We’ve been chosen for salvation,
All you faithful who heed His call.

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles — that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve He appointed: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter, James, son of Zebedee and his brother John, (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him. (Mark 3: 13-19)

Reflection

Jesus had already called a number of the disciples to follow Him before the formal appointment of the twelve. First to be called were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, then James and his brother John, all of them fishermen. He told them, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men” (1:17). According to the account in John’s Gospel, the following day Jesus went to Galilee and found Philip, who in turn told Nathaniel (Bartholomew), “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth” (Jn.1:43-45). Then Jesus called Matthew, the tax collector. Mark named him Levi in Mk.2:14. Could the word “levy” as in tax collection have come from his name?

Except for the first four, the other apostles all came from different backgrounds. None of them seemed to be men of distinction, power, wisdom or wealth. In fact, throughout the Gospel accounts, we read about their character flaws that seem to make them such poor choices as Christ’s core group. As their leader, Peter appeared to be weak and indecisive, even cowardly. James and John were too impulsive and ambitious. Andrew was the meek type, preferring to stay in the background. Then there’s Nathaniel the cynic (“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”) in Jn.1:46. And who can forget the doubting Thomas? And last and least of them all, Judas, the betrayer. From the Gospel accounts, little is known about the other apostles’ lives.

It was only after Jesus had resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven, and the Holy Spirit’s power came down upon the apostles on Pentecost that their lives and personalities were completely transformed. Only John, the favored apostle did not die a martyr’s death, but he was nonetheless exiled in Patmos, where it is believed he wrote the last book of the Bible. Reflecting on the call of the apostles, we can see that they were not chosen because of any particular talents or abilities, but by their willingness to follow and obey a Man of God. They were not even sure about their future with this “Prophet from Nazareth”, and even turned cold feet at a critical time. But in the end, they came together again in faith and trust, albeit in great fear. God knows our weaknesses, our anxieties and fears. But He calls us nonetheless, because even if our faith were the size of a mustard seed, He knows He can make it increase a hundredfold, and employ us for the purpose for which we were born.

Dear God, we have heard Your call, and we follow Your will for our life. Use us as You deem it proper, for we put our complete trust in You, believing that all things work out for the good for those who are called to serve Your kingdom here on earth. We can only praise and thank You, Lord, for this special privilege. Amen.

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