As Jesus taught God’s people with the authority of heaven, showed compassion on the weak and marginalized, and worked healing miracles to restore the lives of those in need, the crowds following him quickly grew larger. Within these crowds were people with great need, those who were curious, those who challenged Jesus’ authority and many others who followed Jesus and learned from him the way of discipleship. Of these followers, Jesus called out twelve, setting them apart from the rest in order to prepare them for the task of establishing Christ’s Church on earth. Jesus set them apart and began teaching them the ways of God’s kingdom, opening their minds to the mysteries of heaven.
Jesus gave the apostles authority to preach and to teach. He gave them power to heal, to cast out demons and taught them what it means to put the needs of others before their own. It was a difficult lesson that took time, but each of these men (except for the one who would betray him) would serve as representatives of Christ proclaiming the forgiveness of sin, teaching others the ways of God and sharing the good news of salvation while tending to the needs of God’s children.
God continues to call people out of the crowds and separate them for the sake of the gospel. In many instances, Christ calls from the crowds those least expected to do extraordinary things for the sake of others. It is still a difficult lesson that takes time. Upon their ordaining, God bestows authority and power to accomplish the same ministry as the twelve so long ago. He gives them courage and the will to go into the world and make disciples, to cast out demons, heal the sick, proclaim forgiveness of sin, baptize and preside at God’s table. Jesus calls the ordained to tend the flocks and feed his sheep. As we do these things, the Church of Christ grows.
The crowd that followed Jesus is the same crowd that gathers in churches and wherever the gospel is proclaimed. Pews, chairs and halls are filled with the marginalized, the needy, those who desire to learn more of the mysteries of heaven, and even some who would challenge the shepherd’s authority. Those who have been called and separated from the crowds must bear with that which is most often inconvenient. They willingly choose to deny their selves to take an opportunity of doing for others. Those who go about doing the work of God must learn to expect hindrances from some and overcome stumbling blocks of others. Yet, Christ calls whom he will; for his grace is his own.
May the Lord call and send forth more and more of those open to serving him through this blessed work. May the Church continue to love and support those called by Christ and together serve as witnesses to the world of God’s saving grace.