“You did not choose Me, but I chose you so that you may go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last,” John 15:16
Today’s gospel from Mark 3 tells us that Jesus spent the night with His Heavenly Father in prayer before calling out twelve of His disciples to be His apostles, His emissaries, on Earth. Jesus is the Father’s Emissary. His chosen apostles would, in turn, be Jesus’ emissaries. In them, Christ continues His own mission.
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:
What, one wonders, went through the heart and mind of Jesus that night as He and the Father talked about those whom they would choose as the pillars of His church and His witnesses to take the good news to the ends of the earth?
God Does Not Necessarily Call the Qualified, He Qualifies the Called
In the Old Testament, we witness the Jewish people and their long history of unfaithfulness to the Lord, despite having been chosen by God as His very own people and having the privilege of being led by miraculous signs and wonders out of Egypt, the land of slavery. The New Testament authors, in turn, do not hide the failures of even Jesus’ closest friends, Peter, James and John, not to mention Thomas and Judas Iscariot.
But Jesus’ incarnation is all about grace, which I once heard beautifully defined as God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. Through Christ’s descent from divinity to human existence, His gruesome death and glorious resurrection, we would receive the power to become children of God. We would also receive the priceless gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit and receive power from on high (Luke 24:49) to do the things Jesus did, and even greater (John 14:12).
Every Precept Now Becomes a Promise
I once heard this insightful reflection: In the Old Testament, thou shall not steal is a command. In the New Testament, it is a promise. Thou shall not steal, because the Lord will take away your heart of stone and given you a heart of flesh, as He promised (Ezekiel 36:26). Thousands of Christians across the centuries have experienced with amazement their own conversion of heart in the presence of an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing God. Face to face with Him, we encounter our own depravity, and our own extraordinary favor in His eyes because of Christ’s blood which covers us. Which heart would not melt like wax (Psalm 97:5) in the furnace of such love?
The Catechism reminds us that the apostles received both the mandate for their mission and the power to carry it out. (CCC 859) And that power is the Holy Spirit, given to us as a guarantee of the inheritance He has promised (Ephesians 1:14 and 2 Corinthians 1:22).
God does not ask us to do anything for which He has not already provided the grace to do so, through the power of the Holy Spirit! What a consolation for the Christian pilgrim!