Reading 1: (Eph 2:19-22)
Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Gospel: (Lk 6:12-16)
Jesus went up 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.
I. THEME: Every Christian is called to make a contribution in building the kingdom of God.
To select people for a project, many of us have a tendency to choose those who have the same taste, easy to get along, and having similar background to avoid conflict and to be successful. But the way of Christ in selecting people was very different from us, he chose people of different taste, conflicted temperament, and different background to build up the Church and to proclaim the Good News.
Today readings want to highlight the role of each Christian in building and expanding God’s kingdom. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Ephesians analyzed the legal situation of Christians before and after their conversion. St. Paul wanted to tell them that they “are no longer strangers or sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.” Since they are members of the household of God, they can enjoy the rights and have a duty to expand the kingdom of God. In the Gospel, Jesus chose the Twelve after he had prayed all night. These are people who had different temperament, careers, and background; but were chosen for the same mission: to proclaim the Good News and to continue Jesus’ mission on earth.
1/ Reading I: The whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
1.1/ The legal situation of the Christians: “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
The author wanted to point out the legal difference of a Christian before and after his conversion.
(1) Before knowing Christ: They are stranger (xénoi) because they did not know anything about God and His plan of salvation; they did not have any right of a member in a household or in a country. They are sojourners (pároikoi) because they could enjoy a few rights, but must leave the country at the expired date.
(2) After knowing Christ: They become fellow citizens (sumpolitai) with the saints since they are called to share one kingdom of God. The fellow citizens must keep some laws and can enjoy some rights, but not all. When they become members of the household (oikeioi) of God, they can have all the rights as members of God’s family. However, as members of God’s household, they have duties to keep all the laws and to contribute to upbuilding the house.
1.2/ A Christian is a living member of God’s Temple: Once a Christian becomes a member of God’s household, he can be considered as a stone of the Temple in which:
– The foundation is the apostles and all prophets: They were the forerunners who called all people to join in Christ’s Church. All prophets announced Christ’s appearance; the apostles received their mission to proclaim the Good News of Christ. They were the foundation because they sacrificed their lives to protect the faith and the Church.
– The cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself: In the art of Jewish building, the cornerstone is the most important part. From this cornerstone, a house or a buiding is constructed. If there is not a cornerstone, there is no house or building. The author’s intention is that: Christ is the essential part in God’s Temple. The idea of the cornerstone is also mentioned in I Peter 2:6.
(1) In whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord: The author wanted to say that as all parts of the Temple are joined together and become the Temple of God, all Christians must also live in harmony with one another in the Church through Christ.
(2) In whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit: Together in Christ, the Holy Spirit of God bestows different gifts on all Christians for the purpose of building up the Church which is God’s Temple.
2/ Gospel: All night he continued in prayer to God.
2.1/ Jesus fervently prayed before he chose the Twelve: Prayer is one of the main themes in Luke’s Gospel. One author defined to pray is to ask God for advises. Jesus’ decision to choose the Twelve is the most important decision for the survival of the Church; because if the Twelve don’t fulfill their duties, the Church could not be survived. St. Luke indicated that Jesus prayed all night. This implies Jesus did not choose the Twelve as the whole; but he chose each person of the Twelve. According to God’s providence, He knew each one’s temperament and what would happen to them.
2.2/ Jesus chose the Twelve: “And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles;Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew,and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot,and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” We recognize the followings from this list.
(1) There is no special person on the list: According to human standard, this group of twelve people had nothing special: no one is a scribe, or has power in society. The majority of them are fishermen, poor and illiterate. Christ chose these men to transform the world. This is to show that wisdom and talent did not come from the apostles; they completely come from God.
(2) They had very different temperament: The most conflicted pair might be Simon the Jealot, whom we have his feast day today, and Matthew, the tax collector. Simon belonged to the Jealot group; this group extremely hated those who worked for the Roman empire to exploit people; and Matthew was the tax collector who collected taxes for the Roman empire. How could Jesus reconcile Simon and Matthew so that they became friend to proclaim the Good New together? The second pair is Peter and Thomas. Peter easily believed and quickly expressed his faith before any other apostles; while Thomas hardly believed until he could see a proof.
(3) All were weak and had many shortcomings: Peter believed and denied Jesus three times in his Passion. James and John would like to become next to Jesus in his kingdom. Their desire caused jealousy amongst other apostles. Judah Iscariot was the betrayer. The apostles could not be awaked with Jesus in his agony in the garden. All except John escaped and left Jesus to die alone on the cross. In his divine nature, Christ certainly forsaw all these; but he still chose and patiently educated them to bring out the last perfect result.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We have been chosen to become members of God’s household. What did we do to contribute to the expansion of God’s kingdom?
– God chose us, not because we are wise, talented, or holy; but when we are still weak, sinful and having many shortcomings. He would like us to follow Christ’s teachings and the Holy Spirit’s guidance to live as good disciples, and to help others to welcome the Good News.