Saint Josemaria
Quotations from Saint Josemaria

Calling the Apostles

Tags: Apostolate, defects, Vocation
In these days he went out into the hills to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor (Lk 6:12-16).

I’m greatly encouraged whenever I consider a written precedent for what we have been talking about. We find it, step by step, in the Gospel’s account of the vocation of the first twelve. Let’s meditate on it slowly, asking those holy witnesses of our Lord to help us follow Christ as they did.

The first Apostles, for whom I have great affection and devotion, were nothing to boast about, humanly speaking. With the exception of Matthew, who probably earned a comfortable living which he left behind at the behest of Jesus, the Apostles were mere fishermen. They lived a meager existence, fishing all night to keep food on the table.

But social status is unimportant. They weren’t educated; they weren’t even very bright, if we judge from their reaction to supernatural things. Finding even the most elementary examples and comparisons beyond their reach, they would turn to the Master and ask: Explain the parable to us. When Jesus uses the image of the leaven of the Pharisees, they think that he’s reproaching them for not having purchased bread.

They were poor; they were ignorant. They weren’t very simple or open. But they were even ambitious. Frequently they argued over who would be the greatest when – according to their understanding – Christ would definitively restore the kingdom of Israel. Amid the intimacy of the last supper, during that sublime moment when Jesus is about to immolate himself for all of humanity, we find them arguing heatedly.

Faith? They had little. Jesus Christ himself points this out. They had seen the dead raised, all kinds of sicknesses cured, bread and fish multiplied, storms calmed, devils cast out. Chosen as the head, Saint Peter is the only one who reacts quickly: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. But it is a faith beset by limitations, which led Peter to reproach Jesus Christ for his desire to suffer and die for the redemption of men. And Jesus had to upbraid him: Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.

... And did these men of little faith at least stand out in their love for Christ? Undoubtedly they loved him, at least in word. At times they were swept away by enthusiasm: Let us also go, that we may die with him. But at the moment of truth, they all fled, except for John who truly loved with deeds. Only this adolescent, youngest of the Apostles, can be found next to the cross. The others didn’t find within themselves that love as strong as death.

These were the disciples called by our Lord. Such stuff is what Christ chose. And they remain just like that until they are filled with the Holy Spirit and thus become pillars of the Church. They are ordinary men, complete with defects and shortcomings, more eager to say than to do. Nevertheless, Jesus calls them to be fishers of men, co?redeemers, dispensers of the grace of God.
Something similar has happened to us…
Christ is Passing By, 2-3