Saturday, October 28, 2006

Feast of Ss. Simon and Jude, Apostles
Citizens and Apostles

Readings: Ephesians 2:19-22; Psalm 19:2-3, 4-5; Luke 6:12-16

Metaphors and analogies are very useful, even essential, when we wish to understand spiritual realities. But we must be careful when using them because they are not without limitations.

Consider, for example, the two metaphors used in the first reading to describe the great privilege of being a Christian. Unlike an alien – who is always an outsider, someone who doesn’t quite belong – a Christian is a citizen, someone whose place in the country is assured, someone who has a right to be here. Similarly, to be a Christian is to find oneself incorporated into something much larger, more solid, more significant and even more beautiful than oneself, much like a brick or a stone is incorporated into an imposing building.

Important as these metaphors are, however, they are not without their limitations. When we think of a foreigner gaining citizenship, for example, isn’t there the danger of thinking purely in terms of a homecoming, a settling down, a coming to rest? And when we think of the spiritual life in terms of a building, isn’t there a danger of seeing it in purely static terms? Buildings don’t move from place to place. Isn’t this why the first reading speaks of this building in dynamic terms – as still being built?

In contrast, when Jesus calls the Twelve in today’s gospel reading, he doesn’t only greet them with a joyful welcome to the family. Jesus calls them apostles – ones who are sent. And it is this same element of sending, of moving out, that is emphasized in the responsorial psalm: their word goes forth to all the earth. When we become citizens in the Christian family, when we become incorporated into Christ’s Body, we share in the power that flows out of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, not just for ourselves, but so that we too can be sent out to others.

Becoming Christian is as much a sending-out as it is a homecoming.

Where and to whom are we being sent today?

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