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Posts Tagged ‘tradition’


Pushkin Museum – Moscow, Russia: The Synaxis of the Holy and the Most Praiseworthy Twelve Apostles

Apostleship: Following the Call

The Eleventh Day of Christmas, January 4, 2018

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gives to me eleven pipers piping.

These eleven lords represent the eleven apostles who doubted, yet remained faithful to Christ.

When crisis comes into our lives, we often retreat into hiding, taking our fear and exhaustion with us. We revert to what we know and do well; just as Peter and the other fishermen-followers did when they returned to their boats after the horrible events of Holy Week in Jerusalem. Like the story in John 21, we flounder in our boats while Jesus stands “on the shore” of our lives. Like the apostles in this story, we too often do not recognize the faithful Jesus. After fishing all night in the dark, we – like the apostles – remain frightened. Jesus calls to us, saying, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” We answer, as the apostle did, “No?” And Jesus says, “Cast the net over the right side”. We roll our eyes as we might guess the apostles did. But when we do as Jesus asks, we haul up the net that is “not torn . . . even though it was full of so many” fish. Then we, like Peter, must take the leap over the side of the boat and flail to shore . . . because there Christ is waiting with the brazier of live coals to cook us a meal, to bring us comfort, to open The Word to us, to free us from oppression, to raise us from the dead. And when Christ asks, “Do you love me?” we, like Peter who days earlier had denied that he knew Christ, must respond, “You know that I love you”. It is then that we will be told what and how to do: Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep, follow me.

Nicolas Poussin: Ordination of the Apostles (detail)

And we must follow. We must take the leap when Christ calls us from the shoreline. We must have faith and we must choose to enact our faith as the faithful followers did. We must cast our nets even though we have been at the task all day and all night without finding success. When we hear the call, we must step out into the water and fly to the shore, because there is truly nothing else more important. This is where the salvation of humankind lies.

Adapted from a reflection on apostleship written on April 22, 2007.

According to tradition, the remaining eleven continued to follow Christ in this world as they continued to build the Kingdom. Tradition also tells us that the faithful eleven continued to preach The Word all the days of their lives. Some died violently, others did not. For more details, and for short video clips about the facts we know, use the links below, or visit: http://www.catholic.org/saints/

  1. Simon, called Peter (rock) was crucified on Vatican Hill in Rome.
  2. Andrew, Peter’s brother was executed in the city of Patras, Greece.
  3. James, son of Zebedee, brother of John was decapitated in Jerusalem.
  4. John, son of Zebedee, brother of James died in Ephesus in about the year 98 C.E.
  5. Philip was crucified in Hierapolis, Greece.
  6. Bartholomew, called Nathaniel was flayed and beheaded in Abanopolis.
  7. Thomas (referred to as the doubter) preached in India and was killed in a hunting accident
  8. Matthew, the tax collector, called Levi, Matthew, the Evangelist preached in Persia and Africa, and we have no information about his death.
  9. James, the son of Alphaeus, also named The Less or The Just was executed in Jerusalem.
  10. Thaddeus, the son of James, called Judas/Jude (not the betrayer), brother of James the Less visited Beirut and Edessa, and was likely martyred with Simon.
  11. Simon, the Zealot was likely executed in Jerusalem.
  12. In Matthew 27:5 we learn that Judas hanged himself; but in Acts 1:18, his death is described as resulting from a fall. As always, those who explore Scripture are invited to read, reflect, and meditate on The Word that Christ brings to us as his followers. 

For fascinating articles on where the remains of these followers lie today, click the images above, or visit: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/tcraughwell/where-are-the-12-apostles-now or https://aleteia.org/2017/07/21/whatever-happened-to-the-twelve-apostles/ 

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Acts 15: Control

Friday, May 6, 2016Jerusalem-Council

In this book which describes the birth of a community, we see how the followers of Christ dissent and argue, come together and unify. They are much like members of any community we might see today. In this reading, church members gather in an effort to both communicate and to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.  We witness the concern for what some believe to be a lack of control and what to others appears as micro-management.  We can find ourselves at the office lunch table or coffee pot, at a family or neighborhood gathering to say the same things about our own society.  Who has control over what and why?  Where do we leave room for the Holy Spirit to speak?  Are we falling back on old rules, customs, habits and traditions?  Are we seeking change because we are bored or because it is needed?  Today’s reading can give us a good deal to ponder.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Tower of Babel

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Tower of Babel

In many churches, authority comes not only from the bishops and the hierarchy, but also from the people in the pews; yet sometimes the little voice is overridden by the bigger, more powerful one.  In a family, each generation’s voice must be heard if the large unit is to flourish and give life; yet sometimes the children, the tired and those who are marginalized are ignored.  God’s diversity not only allows for a variety of voices; it requires an array of choice. We have only to look to the story of the Tower of Babel to see why.  (Genesis 11) Humankind survives the great flood yet still has the impression that they are in charge, and so God sends an assortment of languages upon them, causing them to separate and diversify.

Those of us who teach the acquisition of language know that we teach far more than verbs and nouns; we teach a way of thinking and various modes of expression. We teach a way to step out of ourselves and into the shoes of another.  In God’s plan, this rainbow of sound and form is brought back from its prism of variety at the feast of the Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit descends upon the apostles who go out to tell the story of Christ.  The amazing part of the story is that people from differing lands understand what the apostles say.  The people were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?  Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language?”  (Acts 2:7-8) This variety of people hears because the Holy Spirit speaks . . . and it is the presence of the Holy Spirit we must seek when we feel ourselves to be in a circumstance where control or passive aggression are being unjustly exercised – either by others or ourselves.

We might, when we find ourselves in these restricted places, intone the words of Psalm 133.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.  For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

It is good . . .

Even life for evermore . . .

Amen. 

Adapted from a favorite written on November 3, 2009.

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