January 22, 2016

Gospel MK 3:13-19
Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter;
James, son of Zebedee,
and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges,
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus;
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
Of the many people who followed Him, Jesus chose twelve as Apostles.
He appointed them to go forward to preach His message of the Good News of Our Father’s love and forgiveness of our sins.
Why did He choose these twelve men above the many others who were also dedicated believers?
Scripture does not answer this question, but I believe they each must have displayed two critically important qualities: commitment to mission and loyalty to Jesus.
Interestingly, of the twelve whom Jesus chose, only John lived to a ripe old age. Ten died a martyr’s death rather than deny Jesus, and one, Judas Iscariot, committed suicide after having betrayed Christ.
When asked what was Judas’ greatest sin, many reply, “His betrayal of our Lord.”
I think not. I believe Judas Iscariot’s greatest sin was giving in to despair;
he believed that his sin of betrayal was greater than Jesus’ ability to forgive.
Peter denied Jesus three times, yet, in repentance, he returned to Jesus and carried on the work of spreading the Good News.
Judas only had to repent and surely Jesus would also have embraced him with forgiveness.
Like the Apostles, we also are called to commitment and loyalty to Jesus Christ. Thankfully, few of us can expect to be martyred but we will have times when we fail in our loyalty and commitment to Jesus and His mission.
In our weakness we need to remember that Jesus came to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins. May we resist the sin of despair and, like Peter, always return to receive the forgiveness and mercy promised by Christ.

“He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
Mark 8:34-35