31st March 2022
Exodus 32.7-14; Psalm 105; John 5.31-47
Again and again Jesus describes himself as One who was sent. [e.g. John 3.17; 4.34; 5.23-30; 6.29,38-40,57; 7.16,28-29; 8.16-18,28-29; 10.36; 11.42; 12.44-49; 13.16; 14.24; 15.21; 16.5; 17.3,21-25; 20.21] Essentially, this locution is used at least once in nearly every chapter of the Gospel. The Greek verb apostellein, from which we have derived the English word apostle, means ‘to send’. In this oft-used self-description of himself as the heavenly Father’s apostle Jesus has given us food for meditation on our own apostleship.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes the decree of Pope St Paul VI on the apostolate of the laity: ‘The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well.’ ‘Indeed,’ the Catechism continues, ‘we call an apostolate every activity of the Mystical Body that aims to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth.’
To do the works of the One who has sent us, though, we must be fully in him. The Christian apostolate is not a way of ‘baptising’ our own political agendas; rather, to know ourselves as ‘sent ones’ is a spiritual work of humility, subjecting our preferences and predilections to the searching gaze of the God who is the Judge of every human pretension.