Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Discipleship challenge

Jesus appointing His disciples
- by James Tissot

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 10:1-25

TO CHEW ON: "'And you will be hated by all for My sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.'" Matthew 10:22

Imagine you are one of the disciples getting these instructions and warnings from Jesus. You are to go on a mission trip but take no money and no extra clothes. Whether or not you have a roof over your head will depend on the hospitality of someone you pick as a "worthy" person (i.e. your ability to judge human nature?).

The ultimate outcome of this foray into the world will be arrest and public scourging by religious leaders. There will be trials for which you are to prepare no defence but depend instead on the moment-by-moment inspiration of the Holy Spirit for what to say. Further, you are to expect betrayal from your own family and hatred from all, simply because of your association with Jesus and all He stands for.

If you had been one of the twelve hearing these things, would you have stuck with Jesus, let alone gone on that mission?

Though the Bible details the death of only two these disciples (Judas by suicide, James put to death by Herod Agrippa I in 44 AD), tradition substantiates the fulfillment of Jesus grim prediction for most of them.

Persecution of Jesus' followers has continued over the centuries. The relative lack of persecution in North America in our generation may well be a blip in history. Even here, ambivalence, tending toward hatred of Christians simmers just below the surface in many places. We should not be surprised or taken off-guard when it erupts. Jesus has warned us. Will we stick with Him like these twelve (later minus one) did?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I confess I am soft. Your list of things that disciples should expect chills me. Help me to stay loyal to You one day at a time, as unencumbered by this world's stuff and loyalties as the disciples were to be. Amen.

MORE: Feast of St. Bartholomew

Today the church celebrates the Feast of St. Bartholomew. He is mentioned in the Bible only in lists of the disciples' names. (Bartholomew also goes by the name Nathaniel, according to some Bible scholars)

Tradition tells of him taking the gospel to Armenia and India. Some say that he came to a painful end. The artist Michelangelo's depiction of him on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel shows him holding his own flayed skin; the face is Michelangelo's self-portrait.

Here is the collect that begins the liturgy for the Feast of Saint Bartholomew:

Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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