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Daily Gospel Reading - January 22, 2010 PDF Print E-mail

Mk 3:13-19


The Mission of the Twelve

13[Jesus] went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. 14He appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach 15and to have authority to drive out demons: 16[he appointed the twelve:] Simon, whom he named Peter; 17James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; 18Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, 19and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Jesus Appointed Twelve

There were three main types of people who followed Jesus. The least organized and stable were the crowds who thronged around Jesus to listen to him and to benefit from his powerful deeds. The second group was more attached to Jesus, followed him for a period of time, and even supported him and his intimate group out of their means. The closest to Jesus were the twelve he appointed to be with him and whom he would later send.

Later on, this company would be known as a distinct group—the Twelve (Greek dodeka), with or without the addition “apostles.” The number twelve has a clear redemptive and historical symbolism. The Twelve represent in a new form the people of the twelve tribes of Israel—the Chosen People. In the selection of the Twelve, Jesus is forming a new community of God, not just as represented by them, but formed through them as they continue the mission of Jesus.

The Twelve apostles, under the leadership of Simon Peter, will be the pillars of the community of believers after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven. Here, Mark gives us the list of their names. They are called “apostles” because they are sent in the name or authority of Jesus. John, who does not use the word “apostle” for the disciples in deference to Jesus who is “the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world” (Jn 10:36), nonetheless knows the company known as the Twelve (Jn 6:70).

The Twelve are Jesus’ closest collaborators. To them is entrusted the authority of leadership in the community of disciples, the new Chosen People, just as the twelve sons of Jacob were to Israel.

Daily Gospel Reading - January 21, 2010 PDF Print E-mail

Mark 3:7-12

The Mercy of Jesus

7Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people [followed] from Galilee and from Judea. 8Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. 9He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. 10He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. 11And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” 12He warned them sternly not to make him known.

Unclean Spirits.. Fall Down Before Him

In Sacred Scriptures, there is a close connection between the holy and the clean. Holiness is first applied to God as someone who is “wholly other,” and expresses the idea of separation, majesty, incomprehensibility. By analogy, a person or a thing is holy or “clean” since it is set apart for the service of the deity and is removed from common use. Later, the idea of cleanness/holiness is broadened to include ethical or moral purity.

Angels are spirits who act as messengers of God. Created as higher than human beings and closer to God, they are considered holy. But there are also “unclean spirits”; these are demons or spiritual powers which are opposed to God. While angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Heb 2:14), the “unclean spirits” put people under their power, rendering them unclean, and causing them insanity and harm.

Here the unclean spirits address Jesus as the Son of God, not as a confession, but as an attempt to render him harmless. There was a popular belief that knowledge of the precise name or quality of a person confers mastery over him. The demons try to control Jesus and strip him of his power, but their cries of recognition are futile. Jesus is truly the Son of God, the Bearer of the Holy Spirit, and between the Holy Spirit and the unclean spirits there is a categorical antithesis that the demons must recognize. With Jesus’ divine authority, the unclean spirits are silenced. He is the “Stronger One” who ties the “strong man” (the devil) and despoils him.

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