- THE MISSION OF THE TWELVE.

Created: Tuesday, 02 July 2013 Last Updated: Saturday, 31 August 2013

The mission of the twelve


1.- The mission of the Twelve is fundamental for the Gospel proclamation. The twelve disciples are sent to the twelve tribes of Israel. They announce, the same than Jesus, the Kingdom of God (and his justice) and the signs of his presence: go and proclaim the message: the kingdom of Heaven is near: Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers and drive out demons (Mt 10, 7,8). The disciples are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (5,13). They must announce and live God’s will, the justice of God’s kingdom, the justice that is over that of the teachers of the law and of the Pharisees (5, 20), and that accomplishes the law and the prophets (5, 17).
2.- In the file of the Twelve (10, 2 – 4), Simon appears in first place, with the name of Peter, in the team of the two groups of brothers (Simon and Andrew, James and John), the four first disciples (Mr 4,18-22). We have some other details about the publican Mathew (Mt 9,9), about Judas the traitor (Mt 26, 14-25), about Philip and Nathaniel (Jn 1,43-51; 6, 5-7), about Thomas (Jn 14, 8 –10). The group of the Twelve is heterogeneous, complex, jumbled: all of them came from Galilee, but between then there was greek and Jewish names, from modest fishermen to members of other professions (a publican like Mathew, a zealot like Simon), and also John the Baptist disciples (James and John).
3.- Mission horizon is defined. The twelve are sent to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. (Mt 10,6). They go harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd (9,36). They have now the possibility of gathering around a unique shepherd (Ez 34). It is not important to carry out many things, but to accomplish God’s will in a horizon determined by Him. Later on, the door for the gentiles will be completely open: They will come from the east and the west (Mt 8,11).
4.- Gospel announcement must be free: You received this as a gift, so give it as a gift. Do not carry any gold, silver or copper in your purses. Do not carry a traveller’s bag, or and extra shirt, or sandals or walking stick, for a worker deserves his living (10, 8-10). The apostles must left at home their provisions pouch, their changing clothes and other things. Their luggage should be light. All things necessary will be given to them.
5.- The reception given to the legates is decisive (10,11-13). Whenever a home or town rejects the announcement of the messengers, they ought not excuse or blame themselves, but they shall denounce the total communion breakdown, shaking the dust off their feet (10, 14). At the last judgement, when the son of man comes in his glory surrounded by all his messengers (Mt 25,31; Dn 7,14.26.27; Zec 14,5) it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than it will go for the people of that town (10,14-15). The Twelve share with him the judgement function: you, too, will sit on twelve thrones to rule the twelve tribes of Israel (19, 28). The refusal and the death of the legates provoke the judgement of God: Account shall be requested (Mt 23,34; Lk 11, 51; see Jr 7, 25-26).
6.- Jesus sends his disciples like sheep among wolves (Mt 10,16). They must be conscious of the danger but without careless exposition: You must be clever as snakes and innocent like doves (10, 17). Prudence is necessary but simplicity too. The Twelve will suffer, like Christ, the violent opposition of men; they, then, run great risks: Be on guard with respect to people, for they will hand you over to their courts and they will flog you in their synagogues; you will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me to witness to them and the pagans (10, 17-18). The testimony given in these circumstances will have a unique value.
7.- In the worst moment, the disciples will have the light and the strength of God’s spirit: When you are arrested do not worry about what you are to say. When the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say, for it is not you who will speak, but it will be the Spirit of your Father in you. (10, 19-20).
8.- Persecution will take place in even your own family: Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against parents and have them put to death (10,21). Division will also reach the parents: Your enemies will be the members of your family (10, 36). The option for Jesus cause overcomes the family: Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; whoever loves his son or his daughter more than me, is not worthy of me (10, 37). They need a perseverance tested against any enmity, deception or disgrace (10, 22).
9.- The disciples must take advantage of the possibility to flee avoiding exposition to a danger in the basis of bad understood heroism: When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next (10-23). Nevertheless persecution is something distinctive of the apostle: If the head of the family has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of the family!. (10, 25) The head of the family is Jesus himself, and He has been calumniated, and he has been blamed to have signed a pact with the devil (9,34); the disciples must assume that they will be calumniated, discredited, injured and insulted.
10.-  Don’t be afraid, says Jesus. Your fear for men must not influence your testimony. It is necessary to speak openly and without apprehension: There is nothing covered that will not be uncovered (10,26). Men’s power affects only the body: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body (10,28). The disciple overcomes even the fear to death: Nothing will happen without the knowledge of God; so do not be afraid: you are worth much more than many sparrows (10, 33).
11.-  He who welcomes you welcomes me, and he who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me (10,40). Same thing is said about all those who take part in the Gospel proclamation. (Lk 10, 16). To welcome is not only to be hospitable, but also to receive the word proclaimed by the disciple. All this will have its reward: The one who welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive the reward of a prophet; the one who welcomes a just man because he is just will receive the reward of a just man. And I promise you if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple of mine, he will not go unrewarded. (Mt 10, 41).
12.- The little ones are Jesus disciples. In one occasion they asked him, even they were discussing (Mk 9, 34) who was the greatest. He called a child and placed him in the middle and said: Whoever makes himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven (Mt 18,4; see Mk 9,41-42). To be a disciple means to come back to be a child, insignificant to the eyes of the world. The last Judgment is decided in the reception of  Jesus and his messengers. Men (all nations, not only Israel) will be judged by his attitude before the disciples who incarnate the presence of Jesus. Whatever you did  to one of my little brothers, you did it to me (Mt 25,40), for I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me into your house. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you went to see me. (25,35-37).
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