Sent ones

Daily Reading for October 28 • St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles

Apostolos means “one who is sent (forth)” or, more simply, “sent one.” As with most of the key moments of decision in Luke’s writings, Jesus’ selection of the Twelve followed a night of prayer (Luke 6:12-16). . . . Their number recalls the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve sons of Jacob for whom the tribes are named. Of the Twelve, we are told that at least four were Galilean fishermen (the two pairs of siblings), one was a tax collector (Levi/Matthew), and one was most likely a member of a political party committed to the overthrow of the occupying Roman Empire (Simon the Zealot). Most, if not all, lived their entire lives in that small, neglected corner of the empire. None had Greek names and the likelihood is that Aramaic, not Greek, was their native tongue. They were provincial in their experience and in their vision, and yet to these unlikely candidates Jesus gave “power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases” and commissioned them “to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:1-2). Proclamation accompanied by deeds of power—this was to be their apostolic work. This is what these “sent ones” were sent to do. But how would they learn to do this work? What would be their instruction guide?

For Luke, the answer is not a “what” but a “who.” Jesus himself is both the prototype and the living exemplar of all that his apostles were called to be. Between their initial selection in Luke 6 and their official commissioning in Luke 9, these “sent ones” walked with Jesus and witnessed all that he said and did. . . . Jesus not only understands himself as God’s “sent one,” but recognizes that such a ministry involves moving beyond the familiar and the comfortable. This is a constant motif in the gospel, as Jesus again and again reaches out to the marginal ones of his time: women and children, servants and slaves, Samaritans and Romans, and those considered to be “sinners.” All this the apostles witness as they follow Jesus in the time between their calling and their commissioning. Yet they often do not seem to get it, . . . and it is little wonder that Luke soon introduces another group, seventy workers whom Jesus sends out in pairs.

From Conversations with Scripture: The Acts of the Apostles by C. K. Robertson. Copyright © 2010. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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