Followers or Disciples? Friday, 2nd week in ordinary time- Mark 3:13-19

The reading of today focuses on the appointment of the twelve. Of these twelve, four of them already find mention in Mark 1:16-20 namely Simon, Andrew, James and John. Now from the numerous people who follow Jesus He calls those “whom he desired and they came to Him”. These are called to “be with Him, preach and have the authority to cast out demons.  This appointment is significant as much as it is symbolic for the number twelve also alludes to the tribes of Israel.

There is a clear preferential option that Jesus makes in his choosing of the twelve. From the thousands of ‘followers’ He chooses ‘disciples’, men that He desired to be with Him. There is a clear distinction between being a follower and a disciple of Jesus. Our beloved father of the nation. Gandhiji, was most certainly a follower of the teachings of Jesus but he was most certainly not a disciple. A disciple is single minded in his or her desire for the master.

When Jesus called the twelve to be His disciples He clearly outlined their pastoral ministry. Primarily He wanted them to ‘be with Him’. Their first duty as disciples was to BE and then DO. Most disciples think that their calling is to do things for the Lord. You can’t do unless you are with the Lord discerning His will. The great spiritual battle of being over doing is made clear by the choice that Jesus lays for his disciples.  The other two pastoral ministries were preaching and casting out demons. Jesus was pointed in His teaching as to what he expected from the twelve and by extension to us; our being must supersede our doing.

The passage also goes on to name the twelve with an association or in some cases a change of name. The Bible has several persons whose names were changed. Abram was called Abraham, Jacob was renamed Israel, Saul became Paul etc. A change in name often symbolizes a new station in life or a new role one has to play or a new beginning. Simon is called the rock symbolizing his role as the foundation of the Church.

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