Fr Roland Agrisola reads and reflects on the Gospel of Matthew (10: 1-7) in which Jesus choose his twelve apostles and sends them out to proclaim that ‘The kingdom of heaven is close at hand’.
Fr Roland says the reading highlights the fact that our Lord, appointed twelve of his disciples to be his apostles. From those who decided to be his disciples, Jesus chose twelve to be with him and to share in his mission. In other words, there was a larger group of disciples from which Jesus chose his twelve apostles.
The reading also highlights that our Lord gave them the power and authority to do what he has been doing. Until now he has been preaching the kingdom of God; he has been teaching with authority in the synagogues; he has been curing all kinds of diseases and sickness; and, at this point, our Lord shares the power and authority so that the twelve apostles can speak and act in his name. He shares his power so they can preach that the kingdom of God is close at hand. He gives them power and authority so they can cast out devils and cure all kinds of disease and sickness.
The twelve have now the authority as apostles. The word ‘apostle’ means ‘one who is sent’. An apostle, in other words, is sent to speak and act in the name of the person who sent them. In the case of the twelve apostles, they are sent to speak and act in the person of our Lord Jesus.
Friends, we belong to this community of disciples, the Church, founded on the apostles. Fr Roland says, we continue receiving in the Church what the apostles received from the Lord – his teaching, his sacraments, his commandments. We continue to be guided and led by the shepherds, who by the sacrament of ordination, continue the mission of the apostles, namely, the bishops and their helpers, priests, and deacons.
Being members of the apostolic church, we are also sent in one way or the other to speak and act in the name of Christ. Every baptised person is not only a disciple but also an apostle. Being a disciple implies, primarily, receiving the Lord’s word and grace to be transformed, in order to be a new creation.
In the words of St Paul, being an apostle implies mission, being sent, collaborating in the mission of our Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit in bringing humanity in a full creation into communion with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In the words of Pope Francis, each baptised person is not only disciple but also a missionary. Every baptised person, he says, is a missionary disciple.
For our reflection, Fr Roland says, we may ask in what specific way am I participating now in the mission of Christ and his Church? What else can I do to be more actively involved in this mission?