A call within a call – Lk 6:12-19
For Luke, the call of the disciple to be sent out as apostles is an important moment in the life of Jesus. We know this because Luke precedes this narration with a detail that might miss our eye. Jesus went up the mountain to pray and He spent the night in prayer to God. It is wonderful to see how Jesus is in communion with His Father every step of the way but even more at crucial moments of His ministry. We see this at the transfiguration, the multiplication of loaves, the night at Gethsemane and on the cross when he is in agony, to state a few. It is no wonder that Jesus, in the Gospel of John proclaims, “I and the Father are one.”
The Gospel of Luke has Jesus calling Simon and his companions and Levi to follow Him. However up to this point they are called to be disciples. The Greek word for a disciple is μαθητής mathetes, which translated means, ‘one who thinks things through.’ Mathetes is the same root word for MATHEmatics. Just as one has to think things through with a maths problem one has to think discipleship though before saying yes.
Having accepted to follow Jesus , the many disciples of Jesus are now filtered for a specific ministry and not for some singular honour The word for apostle in Greek ( the language in which the NT was written) is απόστολος apóstolos and translates as, ‘one who is sent’. Jesus is clear that these are not honorific titles but commissions to carry out specific work. Incidentally the Holy Father and the Cardinals in the Catholic Church are not some honorific titles but they are primarily Bishops ‘set apart with a specific commission or task’. The Holy Father is primarily the ‘Bishop of Rome’ with a task of being the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. The Cardinals are Bishops with the calling to be the first ones to shed their blood for Christ (that is why they wear red cassocks) and not merely to be elected or elect the next Pope.
Luke depicts Jesus’ choice of the twelve as a symbol of the reconstructed Israel. The twelve now symbolize continuity with Israel. In Acts 1 the number twelve must be completed after the death of Judas, so that the twelve, thus reconstituted might be present to receive the promised Holy Spirit and begin preaching to the ends of the earth. For Luke, this is the mission of the apostles, to preach the ‘Word of God’. Among the other evangelist this is a rare word but in Luke- Acts it appears thirty times, for this is the mission for the apostles as mandated by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke.
Having now appointed the twelve, Jesus brings them down from the mountain to the plain. Mountains are the place where traditionally religious people commune with God. Now, back on the plain He is met by the large crowds of disciples and a great multitude of people drawn from not only the provinces of Israel but also from Tyre and Sidon, people who were considered hated enemies of the Jews. Luke wants to reiterate again an again the universal calling and appeal of Jesus. And as verse 19 indicates, He taught all and healed all.
With this, the stage is set for the Lucan ‘Sermon on the plain’ which will parallel Matthew’s ‘Sermon on the Mount.’
Fr Warner D’Souza
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