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Saint John Henry Newman

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Seeing Your Life through the Lens of the Gospels - John 17:11-19

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John 17:11-19


One of the characteristics of the early part of the book of Acts is Luke's careful interplay of continuity and discontinuity as the early Church develops under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In today's passage we have the account of the appointment of Matthias as one of the Twelve. The Twelve called by Jesus represents the twelve tribes and are so the foundation of the New Israel. Peter as the leader of the community sees this as significant, and so it is to be continued. The use of quotations from the Psalms to justify this shows this sense of continuity and the insistence that the appointee be one who was with Jesus through the ministry likewise, as does the selection by the drawing of lots which was part of the tradition found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Nonetheless the idea that the community can do what Christ had done and has that authority also shows discontinuity. It is also significant that in the rest of the book of Acts Matthias never appears again and that ‘the Twelve' as such gradually disappear as a unit as the Holy Spirit guides individuals like Stephen, Philip and notably Peter and Paul in the work of mission. As the early Church found itself in new situations as it grew out of its Jewish background and spread into the wider pagan world with its alien traditions and ways of doing things, it had to develop new structure and new ways of organisation. However, the sense of continuity in those new developments was important - and still is today. The Church may not appoint apostles by casting lots, but it does insist that those entrusted with ministry have been part of the community of Jesus for a long time and also that they are selected by prayer and laying on of hands under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Even in our very ‘professional' culture, ministry is not a career, as Pope Francis insists so often, but a calling through the Holy Spirit to serve the gospel, and to be sent by Christ into the world consecrated in the truth just as Jesus insists in today's Gospel.



Published Sat 15th May 2021 09:18:58
Last Modified on Sat 15th May 2021 09:18:58

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