Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time. The reading is from Gospel of Matthew 10:1-15.

The Mission of the Twelve Apostles - Matthew 10:1-4

Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Matthew begins the second of the discourses of his gospel (Matthew 10:1–11:1) after an introductory narrative (Matthew 10:1–4).

In the verse

  • Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. (Matthew 10:1)

Jesus gives his twelve apostles authority over unclean spirits and to drive them out, and powers to cure every disease and every illness, the same that he himself did.

In Matthew 10:2-4, is the only time the Twelve are designated apostles. The word “apostle” means “one who is sent,” and therefore fits the situation described here. The place where the term “apostle” occurs most frequently in the New Testament is in the Pauline letters. It means primarily one who has seen the risen Lord and has been commissioned to proclaim the resurrection.

The Tax Collector and The Zealot

St. Matthew (the Tax Collector) the Apostle

St. Simon (the Zealot) the Apostle by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1611

Among the chosen twelve, there was Matthew the tax collector.

Jews engaged in the collection of indirect taxes such as tolls and customs were called Tax Collectors. They paid a fixed sum to the government for the right to collect customs duties within their districts. Since whatever they could collect above this amount constituted their profit, the abuse of extortion was widespread among them. They were very much in league with Roman rulers. Hence, Jewish customs officials were regarded as sinners

  • Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16)

So, among the Jews, the Tax Collectors were considered outcasts of society, scum of the earth and disgraced along with their families. So, the Jews believed that table association with such persons would cause ritual impurity.

It is interesting that one of Jesus’ disciples, Simon, was a zealot (Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13).

Matthew names him as “Simon the Cananean” in

  • Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.(Matthew 10:4)

this represents an Aramaic word meaning “zealot.” Luke directly calls Simon a Zeolot in

  • Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, (Luke 6:15)
  • When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. (Acts 1:13)

The meaning of that designation is unclear.

The Zealots were a band of revolutionaries who rebelled against and opposed Roman rule during the time of Jesus. They called themselves Zealots because they were zealous, not only about God’s law but also about social justice and national liberation.

The zealots favored armed rebellion against Rome. They believed that the could liberate Israel from the Roman yoke by resorting to armed revolution. They reasoned that if David was able to deal with the problem of the gentiles with his sword because God was on his side, then now too God would bring forth a new messiah, a Son of David, who would do the same with the problematic Romans.

The New Testament speaks little of the friction between Rome and the Jewsish nation. It’s true that Jesus consorted the poor but in the Gospels we never come across anywhere any passage where he aproves violence as a means to achi one’s freedom or speak of armed revolution.

Considering the fact that Jesus opposed violent rebellion against Rome, many wonder why Jesus would choose Simon the Zealot as one of his apostles.

The two groups of Jews in Palestine during the period of Jesus - the tax collectors and the zealots, hated each other.

The irony increases when we note the fact that Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot were capable of slitting each other’s throat because they had diametrically opposed political views; yet, Jesus chose them as his apostles.

The passage about the “Mission of the Twelve” appears in Mark and Luke also.

The Mission of the Twelve – Mark 3:13–19

He 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 Mission of the Twelve – Luke 6:12–16

In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.

When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles:

Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Like in Mark and Luke

  • He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. (Mark 3:13)
  • In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)

Matthew has no story of Jesus’ choosing the Twelve, he comes straight to the point of appointing and naming the twelve. He assumes that the group is known to his reader. The earliest New Testament text to speak of the twelve apostles is in 1 Corinthians.

  • that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:5)

The number probably is meant to recall the twelve tribes of Israel and implies Jesus’ authority to call all Israel into the kingdom.

While Luke in

  • When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles: (Luke 6:13)

and probably Mark in

  • And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. (Mark 4:10, 34)

distinguish between the Twelve and a larger group also termed disciples, Matthew tends to identify the disciples and the Twelve as same.

  • Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. (Matthew 10:1)

With slight variants in Luke and Acts of the Apostles, the names of those who belong to this group are the same in the four lists given in the New Testament.

  • The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. (Matthew 10:2–4)
  • [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. (Mark 3:16–19)
  • Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:14–16)
  • When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. (Acts 1:13)

Perusing the above four lists we see that in the Acts of the Apostles only eleven are named because of the defection of Judas Iscariot.

The Exhortation to the Apostles by James Tissot

The Commissioning of the Twelve – Matthew 10:5-15

Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.

Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.

Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep.

Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave.

As you enter a house, wish it peace.

If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.

Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.

Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

The above passage (Matthew 10:5–15) deals with the mission now to be undertaken by the disciples, but the perspective broadens and includes the missionary activity of the church between the time of the resurrection and the parousia.

Here is the marcan version of the above passage.

The Mission of the Twelve – Mark 6:7-13

He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.

He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts.

They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.

He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.

Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”

So they went off and preached repentance.

They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sicke and cured them.

The Twelve also share in his proclamation of the kingdom

  • As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (Matthew 10:7)
  • Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. (Matthew 10:8)

But although he teaches

  • He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)
  • When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, (Matthew 7:28)
  • Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. (Matthew 9:35)

his disciples do not. Their commission to teach comes only after Jesus’ resurrection, after they have been fully instructed by him.

  • Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Like Jesus

  • He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)

the Twelve are sent only to Israel.

  • Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 10:5-6)

This saying may reflect an original Jewish Christian refusal of the mission to the Gentiles, but for Matthew it expresses rather the limitation that Jesus himself observed during his ministry.

The Twelve have received their own call and mission through God’s gift, and the benefits they confer are likewise to be given freely. They are not to take with them money, provisions, or unnecessary clothing; their lodging and food will be provided by those who receive them.

The greeting of peace is conceived of not merely as a salutation but as an effective word.

  • If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you (Matthew 10:13)

If it finds no worthy recipient, it will return to the speaker.

Jesus tells his apostles to “shake the dust from your feet” in

  • Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. (Matthew 10:14)

This gesture indicates a complete disassociation from such unbelievers.

Enhanced by Zemanta
About these ads