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Homily for Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, 20 Jan 2023, Mk 3:13-19

I imagine the reaction of the disciples who were appointed as apostles when they were called to go up to the mountain. Jesus usually went up to the mountain for a retreat, especially when he had to make a very important decision. He did what Moses and Elijah themselves did very often to get a “good connection.” Don’t we hear of soldiers assigned in far-off places in Mindanao, having to climb mountains just to be able to get a good signal in order to be able to send a text to their loved ones?

Jesus seems to have found his own good spots where he got his full connection to his Father. Through prayer, he got connected to his basic power source, which flowed freely in his teaching, healing and exorcising activities. And now he was ready to share, not just the power, but the power source itself. I therefore imagine the shocked reaction of these twelve when they were personally selected to go up to the mountain, and when they realized what it was for—that Jesus was delegating his authority to them. That he was going to allow divine power to be experienced by more people through these men, each one of whom had his own flaws and idiosyncrasies.

Simon was hard-headed; that explains why he was called Rocky or Peter. James and John were ambitious young men who were also hot-headed and impulsive. The other Simon and the other Judas were too politically involved and ideologically tainted. Thomas and Bartholomew (a.k.a. Nathanael) were never easy to convince. Matthew had worked for the Roman government. Andrew and Philip were recycled disciples from the Baptist group.

In the TV episode THE CHOSEN, Dallas Jenkins portrayed James son of Alpheus as a person with disability, who limped around and walked with a cane. Like all the others, he was shocked when he learned that he had been included in the core group of twelve that was being deployed to other towns and villages to do what Jesus himself did—to teach, to heal and to exorcise. “Jesus, how do you expect me to heal others when I need just as much healing myself?”

In a roundabout way, Jesus explains to him that he was not sending them as supermen, but as the flawed human beings that they were. This reminds me of Paul asking the same thing of the Lord, begging him to remove his weakness, which he called a “thorn in the flesh.” But the answer that he got was, “My grace is enough for you for in weakness, power reaches perfection.” (2 Cor 12) He had to learn how to draw his strength not from his own powers but from his connection to Jesus, his only power source.

Mark tells us “Jesus went up the mountain and called THOSE WHOM HE WANTED (meaning, those he had personally chosen) 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.” Send them forth for what? To do exactly as he did—“to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.”

I call it DELEGATED AUTHORITY. Jesus was sharing to them his authority. And he demanded of them only two things—that they remained spiritually “connected” to him who was their sole link to the ultimate power source, and that they did what they were called to do IN HIS NAME. It has been more than two thousand years since that first delegation. Look how the delegation continues and how it has multiplied the presence of Jesus exponentially.

He who suffered, died and resurrected, also ascended, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father—meaning, next to the Power Center of the whole universe. He has sent the Holy Spirit to build up his body, the Church. He also continues to appoint flawed human beings like you and me to continue participating in bringing good news, in establishing God’s kingship in this world.

That is why his voice continues to be heard, his healing and liberating power continues to be experienced by people all over the world. He fulfills the prophecy of Jeremiah according to our first reading from the letter to the Hebrews: he who has called us to be his friends is himself the new covenant, the one who connects us permanently to our power source, who puts God’s laws no longer on paper, who writes them no longer on stone tablets but in our hearts and souls through our response of love to the God who has loved us with his everlasting love.

(Photos are screen shots from “The Chosen”)

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