Last week, the
Pope began the first teaching series of his own choosing, opting to
reflect on the calling and mission of the Apostles. He recently
completed a ongoing catechesis on the Psalms and canticles, begun by
his predecessor, John Paul II years ago.
The Holy Father
began by pointing out that "St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians presents
the Church as a structure 'built upon the foundation of the Apostles
and Prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.' ... The
Gospels all agree in recounting that the call of the Apostles marked
the first steps of Jesus' ministry."
He went on to
highlight this call, as demonstrated in the various Gospel accounts.
St. Mark and St. Matthew, he said, place the scene at the Sea of
Galilee, where Jesus called the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James and John
to be "fishers of men."
Alternately, he showed that Luke dwells on the miraculous catch of fish, "a symbol of their mission as fishers of men.”
He said that
“The destiny of those 'called' will, from now on, be intimately linked
to that of Jesus. The Apostle is an envoy, but prior to that he is an
'expert' on Jesus."
In the Gospel of
John, Benedict explained that this same meeting took place on the banks
of the River Jordan and "and throws light on [the Apostles'] spiritual
world. They were men awaiting the Kingdom of God, anxious to know the
Messiah Whose coming had been announced as imminent. And John the
Baptist's identification of Jesus as the Lamb of God was sufficient to
arouse in them the desire for a personal meeting with the Master."
"Thus”, Benedict said, “the Apostles' adventure began as an encounter between people who opened to one another."
that they “began to have a direct knowledge of the Master. Indeed, more
than proclaiming an idea, they will be witnesses to the person of
being sent to evangelize,” he added, “they will have to 'be' with
Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with Him. On this basis,
evangelization will be nothing other than the announcement of what they
experienced and an invitation to enter into the mystery of communion
dispelled the idea that Christ limited the apostles' mission to Israel
alone when he said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of
In fact, he showed that these words must be seen in the context of Israel as a "community of the covenant.”
messianic expectation,” Benedict said, “the divine promises will be
fulfilled when God Himself, through His Chosen One, gathers His people
together, like a shepherd his flock."
pontiff said, “is the eschatological shepherd Who gathers the lost
sheep of the house of Israel and goes out to seek them, because He
knows and loves them.”
'gathering,' the Kingdom of God is announced to all people," he said,
adding that after Jesus' passion and resurrection, "the universal
nature of the Apostles' mission became explicit. Christ will send the
Apostles 'into all the world,' to 'all nations,' and 'to the end of the
35,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square earlier today to hear
Pope Benedict’s weekly Wednesday catechesis in which he urged
Christians to live out their communion with Christ by taking the
message of the Gospel “to the ends of the earth.”