Scripture: Lectionary 385: Genesis 44:55-57. 42:5-7, 17-24. Psalm 33:2-3,10-11,18-19. Matthew 10:1-7:
Pope John Paul II gave us the luminous mysteries of the rosary. The third mystery fits today’s Gospel and could supplement our reflection on the selection from St. Matthew. The third mystery is the Proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ or the Gospel. Since the apostles are the ones who do this at the request of Jesus, we honor their names that are given to us through the Gospels that contain the Twelve. Matthew’s Gospel calls them both disciples and apostles in today’s liturgical reading. They have also left behind them Churches which then continued to preach and teach the Gospel message after their life here on earth.
We notice that the mission of the Twelve Apostles is listed here and it embraces all the things that Jesus said among them and done. Healing, exorcisms, teaching, building communities of faith, preaching, and baptizing are among the gifts they are to share with those whom they invite to be followers of the Lord.
We notice that the twelve can be studied from all of the listings in the Gospel and thus we get a picture of three sets of four being named. The very first set is solid since it always contains the following four : Peter, James, John, and Andrew. After this there are differences in the listing but by a large the same names to fill in the last two sets of four. This probably is due to the fact that the further down the list we go there seems to be no fixed pattern as in the listing of the first group.
This may be due to the process of Gospel formation that slowly developed. The oral tradition handed down these names for those who were the four independent writers of the Gospels. Once they were written down the oral tradition was then recovered but “frozen” into their writings. The oral tradition developed side by side at the beginning but once it was put into the present Gospel form there were no more listings that agreed or differed.
In the Jewish tradition the oral Torah is on an equal par with the written Torah. We do well to keep this idea alive in our studies on the Gospels to see how they were formed from oral sources or collections such as a “sign source” in John. Both what we can recover of the oral tradition through our careful analysis and comparison of the Gospels as well as through certain tools like form-criticism helps us to appreciate the development of what we now call the four canonical Gospels.
At the beginning all was proclaimed orally and passed down till it was necessary to preserve what was remembered. Then the written accounts developed. We pray in thanksgiving for the apostles and evangelists who have handed down the truths of the four Gospels as well as the sacred memories of the oral tradition. We honor St.Matthew’s listing of the Twelve apostles today and note that the name Matthew is in the second tier or group of four. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.