In the Gospels, Jesus called twelve to be apostles. Notice he did not send them out as separate individuals when he gave them the mission of conquering demons and curing diseases. They were a community of believers that needed each other. Even after Pentecost, when the community moved out in different directions to spread the Church, they traveled with partners and remained firmly connected to the local Christian community.|
None of us, not even our clergy today are meant to be disconnected from community life. We thrive best and are most effective when we have good relationships in the embrace of a Christian community. Friends in that community make us accountable in temptations, support us, challenge us, and minister to us.
The first Apostles were a mixed bunch. Some of them were already friends when they met Jesus. Some were brothers. And some were strangers. Some were old, some were young. They had varied educational backgrounds, some with credentials and some with none. They came from a wide range of professions, and they differed in their expectations of the Messiah. And yet, Jesus wanted them all to be part of the same community - Even a Judas!
Whom has God placed in your life to surprise you? Who is seemingly too different from you to be included in your circle? Who is a potential companion in a ministry where you prefer to do the work by yourself?
Also notice that Jesus never asked for the group's input when he invited a new person to join them. This is what makes Christian community interesting. It's the Lord who chooses the members - or at least it should be! Oh, and if he adds a Judas to your group, trust that there's a good reason for it. Sure, it may lead to suffering, but only for a good cause.
God knows who should be in our lives. The very people we try to avoid are often the ones we end up working with in Christian service! Don't be afraid. Enjoy the unexpected. There's much that Jesus wants to accomplish by putting us together. God may be trying to motivate you to take the risk of getting involved in community. Let us seek to get involved!
Rev'd Fr. Colin Humes