What do you think about, when you hear the word disciple?
The definition of disciple is: a student, a follower of a particular teacher or set of teachings, a devotee, a believer or admirer.
I wonder do you know any disciples?
In the bible we hear stories about disciples all of the time. We especially hear stories of Jesus’s disciples.
Today, we hear a story of a time when Jesus out teaching was in the countryside. He was feeding the hungry, healing the sick, teaching about the kingdom of God, setting prisoners free, resisting evil, and telling everyone he met the Good news of God’s unconditional love for them. While he was doing this, which is the thing Jesus always did. He called twelve of his closest followers to himself, and then sent them out.
He gave them a very special job. That was to go out into the world and be like him.
Being a disciple is sort of like that bracelet that was made famous in the 90’s was based off of Charles Sheldon’s book written in the 1800’s “In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do.” WWJD?
He asked them, he gave THEM authority to go out into the countryside and do the very same things He had been doing: To take care of the sick, to feed the hungry, set the prisoner free, to resist evil wherever they saw it; all the while to proclaim the unconditional love of God to everyone we meet.
That is exactly what they did.
It means we are all followers and students of Jesus.
It doesn’t mean we are perfect at it.
Look at the writer of our Gospel reading. Tradition tells us that Matthew was a tax collector.
Tax collectors were Jews who worked for Rome.
Because tax collectors worked for Rome, they could count on Roman cooperation.
Jews had a second reason for disdaining tax collectors. They believed that God alone was king. To pay taxes to the Roman emperor was to give to him what rightly belonged to God alone.
This helps explain why tax collectors were barred from synagogues and lumped together with sinners and outcasts.
So, when Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to be one of his closest associates, it was truly remarkable. It was yet another example of Jesus’ ability to see beyond what people are to what they can become, by God’s grace.
Jesus saw something in Matthew that other people did not see.
What does all of this mean for us?
It means we are all on a journey to become more and more like Jesus.
It tells us that Jesus didn’t always choose the most savory and most likely people to be his closest associates. He often chose the most unlikely, unimaginable and ordinary at least in our eyes, to do the extraordinary.
Second, it tells me that Jesus looks beyond what we are to what we can become.
He is not interested so much in our past as he is in our future.
He is not interested so much in our liabilities as he is in our possibilities.
He is not interested so much in our ability as he is in our availability.
Finally, it tells us that each of us without exception is a candidate to be called by Jesus to work with him in a special way for the spread of God’s kingdom on earth.
Because, now more so than ever, does the world needs the disciples of Jesus to help to bring about needed change we so desperately long for.
~ Fr. Joseph C. Alsay