Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Hosea 10:1-3.7-8.12; Matthew 10:1-7)
Although the issue sounds odd to many, some theologians have speculated that Jesus did not really intend to found a church. Rather, they say, the Church grew out of the discernment of Jesus’ disciples after the resurrection. Yet evidence such as today’s gospel indicates that Jesus had an institution in mind as he named a definite number of disciples to preach in his stead.
Twelve, of course, represents the tribes of Israel. By naming twelve apostles and sending them strictly to the Jewish territories, Jesus demonstrates his intention of establishing a new Israel. At the end of the gospel, he will direct the same men, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, to the whole world to augment the numbers of his renewed community of faith.
From the beginning Jesus also intends that his Church be more than an assembly of like-minded people. As the list of disciples signals, he deliberately chooses men of different ideologies and ways of life. There are fishermen and at least one businessman. One, the tax collector, is considered a Roman lackey while another, Simon the Cananean, is a zealous opponent of Roman dominion. The diversity is yet another sign of Jesus’ founding genius. The wide range of adherents not only brings different gifts to attract the masses but also gives testimony to his grace as all follow his teachings of forbearance and love.