1) Opening prayer
ruler of all things in heaven and on earth,
listen favorably to the prayer of Your people,
and grant us Your peace in our day.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - Mark 3:13-19
Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted 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 to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: He appointed the Twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
• The Gospel today describes the acceptance and mission of the twelve apostles. Jesus begins with two disciples to whom He adds two others (Mk 1:16-20). Gradually, the number increased. Luke tells us that He called the 72 disciples so as to go on mission with Him (Lk 10:1).
• Mark 3:13-15: The call for a two-fold mission. Jesus calls whom He wants and they go with Him, they follow Him. Then, “He appointed twelve, to be His companions and to be sent out to proclaim the message, with power to drive out devils.” Jesus calls them for a double purpose, for a two-fold mission: (a) to be with Him, that is, to form the community of which He, Jesus, is the center; (b) to pray and to have power to drive out devils, that is, to announce the Good News and to fight against the power of evil that ruins the life of people and alienates people. Mark says that Jesus went up to the mountain, and, while He was there, He called the disciples. The call means climbing up. In the Bible, to climb the mountain recalls the mountain that Moses climbed when he had the encounter with God (Ex 24:12). Luke says that Jesus went up to the mountain, prayed all night, and the following day He called the disciples. He prayed to God so as to know whom to choose (Lk 6:12-13). After having called them, Jesus makes the election official and creates a more stable group of twelve people in order to give more consistency to the mission and to signify the continuity of God’s project. The twelve apostles of the New Testament are the successors of the twelve tribes of Israel.
• Thus, the first community of the New Testament comes into being, a model community, which gradually grows around Jesus during the three years of His public activity. At the beginning they are only four (Mk 1:16-20). Shortly afterwards the community increases as the mission is developing, extending into the towns and villages of Galilee. There is a time when they do not even have the time to eat or to rest (Mk 3:2). This is why Jesus was concerned with giving the disciples some rest (Mk 6:31) and to increase the number of missionaries (Lk 10:1). In this way, Jesus tries to maintain the two-fold objective of the call: to be with Him and to go on mission. The community which is formed in this way around Jesus has three characteristics which belong to His nature: it is a forming, missionary community, and is inserted among the poor of Galilee.
• Mark 3:16-19: The list of names of the twelve apostles. Immediately after, Mark gives the names of the twelve: Simon to whom He gave the name of Peter; James and John the sons of Zebedee, to whom He gave the name of Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the man who was to betray Him. The majority of these names come from the Old Testament. For example, Simon is the name of one of the sons of the patriarch Jacob (Gn 29:33). James is the same as Jacob (Gn 25: 26). Judas is the name of the other son of Jacob (Gn 35:23). Matthew also bore the name of Levi (Mk 2:14), who was the other son of Jacob (Gn 35:23). Of the twelve apostles, seven have a name that comes from the time of the patriarchs. Two have the name of Simon; two are called James; two Judas; one Levi. There is only one who has a Greek name: Philip. It would be like in a family where all have names of ancient times and only one has a modern name. This reveals the desire that people have to remake history from the beginning! It is worthwhile to think about the names which we give our children today. Like the apostles, each one of us is called by God by our name.
4) Personal questions
• To be with Jesus and to go on mission is the two-fold purpose of the Christian community. How do you take on this commitment in the community to which you belong?
• Jesus called the twelve disciples by their names. You, I, we, all of us exist because God calls us by our name. Think about this!
5) Concluding prayer
Show us, Lord, Your faithful love,
grant us Your saving help.
His saving help is near for those who fear Him,
His glory will dwell in our land.