My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Can you give me the names of, at least some, apostles? Peter, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew.
What about St Patrick? Isn’t he called the Apostle of Ireland? What about St Boniface? Isn’t he called the Apostle of Germany? What about St Augustine of Canterbury? Isn’t he called the Apostle of England? What about Saints Cyril and Methodius? Aren’t they called the Apostles of the Slavs? What about St Martin of Tours? Isn’t he called the Apostle of France? What about St Mary Magdalene? Isn’t she called the Apostle of Apostles? By the way do you know why she is called the Apostle of Apostles? She brought the Good News of Jesus’ Resurrection to the Apostles, who were hiding after Jesus’ death on the cross. I can’t understand why some people say that the Catholic Church doesn’t value women. Look the Church’s tradition gives the name of Apostle of Apostles to a woman.
What about Jesus Christ? Would you call him an apostle? Let me read a couple of sentences from the Gospel for this Eucharist with an attempt to give you the original Greek flavour. Jesus reads a passage from the Prophet Isaiah, the passage he applies to himself: “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has apostled me to bring the Gospel to the poor.” I know that it doesn’t sound right to our ear, does it? When I was typing down this homily I had a fight with my computer which kept correcting it. It just shows how poor our main means of communication, I mean English language, is. Apparently Australia is a rich country. We are not. We are so poor that we cannot even express the depth of the Bible in the language we speak. Now let’s fast-forward the Luke’s Gospel story to get to the Chapter 9 when Jesus “had apostled his Twelve disciples to preach the Kingdom of God”, then in the Chapter 10 we read that the Lord “had apostled 72 other disciples to go before him to all the places he himself was to visit” and in the final Chapter 24 when Jesus is about to ascend to heaven. What does he say to his Apostles: “I will apostle to you the Holy Spirit.”
My Dear Friends! One of the things I would like to see before I die is that the word apostle is not only a noun but a verb as well. I dream that one day in an English dictionary, looking up apostle we will read: “An apostle is the person who has been apostled.” That’s how the people who wrote the Gospel and who meditated the Gospel 2000 years ago understood it.
However I have more dreams. I also dream that all of us, who claim to be Catholics, can get it, once and for good, that the Lord has baptised us in order to give us a mission to spread the Gospel. When we take it seriously we will not need to send someone researching apostles to look it up but we can say: “I am an apostle because I have been apostled, I have been sent.” Just imagine how vibrant our parishes would be if the majority of phone calls coming in were: “What can I do for this Church of mine to make us stronger at spreading the Gospel in this area?” This invitation from the Lord is for all of us the Pope, nuns, bishops, priests, parishioners, wise and experienced 80-year-olds as well as confused and rebellious 16-year-olds.
Last week a priest from my religious order, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, died of cancer after a prolonged agony. When he was asked how he was coping he said: “Among us golfers we say: You play from where the ball drops.” He accepted his condition as it was, and in the midst of his deteriorating health he was doing his best for God’s glory.
You don’t need some university qualifications to spread the Gospel. The most important qualification is believing that the Lord Jesus Christ has sent you; or to start fulfilling my dream we can say: Believing that the Lord Jesus Christ has apostled you.