Jesus names the twelve

Today we move on to Chapter 10 of Matthew’s Gospel and Fr Paul says we need to be aware that Matthew’s Gospel is made up of five collections of the sayings of Jesus, or discourses as they are called.  Yesterday we came to the end of the first collection, or first discourse, and today we begin the second discourse – the missionary discourse.

Today in Matthew (10:1-7) we hear of the election of the disciples and the sending of them to carry out the mission that Jesus has given them.

Over the past week we’ve heard of the wonders, or miracles, Jesus has been doing. He now passes on this authority so that it becomes part of the disciples’ ministry or mission.  The gospel today focuses on the exterior mission of the disciples.

We need to keep in mind that the number twelve is crucial because it represents the twelve tribes of Israel. It is crucial because Jesus is consciously forming a new Israel and to do so there must be twelve leaders. Hence, the twelve disciples are named and they will be the leaders of the new Israel.

It is also worth noting, Simon Peter is named first when we heard the names of the disciples, indicating that Simon Peter already seems to have a special authority within the group of Jesus’ followers.

At this early stage of their mission, the disciples are limited in their ministry. Jesus says to them just minister to the house of Israel, don’t step on pagan land, do go to the Samaritans.   It is after the risen Jesus instructs the twelve to go out to all the world that we will understand how that missionary journey is broadened. However, for now, they are limited to ministering to Israel.

With our Gospel in mind, especially the naming of the disciples and their calling,­ Fr Paul says we might reflect on ‘What is God calling me to do in my life at this point in time? What is the mission God gives to me? What is it that I can do to proclaim that message of Jesus that the kingdom of God is close at hand, to those that are around me at this time?’