Memory of Jesus crucified

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Prayer for the unity of the Churches. Particular memory of the Christian communities in Europe and in the Americas

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 3, 13-19

He now went up onto the mountain and summoned those he wanted. So they came to him

and he appointed twelve; they were to be his companions and to be sent out to proclaim the message,

with power to drive out devils.

And so he appointed the Twelve, Simon to whom he gave the name Peter,

James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom he gave the name Boanerges or 'Sons of Thunder';

Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot

and Judas Iscariot, the man who was to betray him.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The passage we just heard begins a new section of the Gospel of Mark. The evangelist begins by noting the gathering place: the mountain. We are no longer on the shores of the Lake of Galilee with the coming of crowds; Jesus moves on the mountain. Almost certainly, it is the Mount of the Beatitudes, as the Sermon on the Mountain comes immediately after the choice of the Twelve, according to the narrative of the other evangelists. The mountain is the place of prayer, the place of the encounter with God rather than of the mission among the people. And Mark writes that Jesus “called those whom he wanted and they came to him.” It is he who chooses and calls. After joining the call, Jesus takes them on the mountain. There are twelve, like the twelve tribes of Israel. It is clearly an act full of meaning: he is the shepherd of all Israel. Finally, the whole people of God found its unity around the one shepherd. Those Twelve are united on the basis that Jesus called them and united them to his mission. And it is the Lord who holds them together as brothers, nothing else. The sole reason for Christian communion is Jesus, not nationality, not common interests, not links of culture or blood, not the common condition, nor joint memberships. They are united only to be the disciples of the one Master. But staying next to Jesus is not to close ourselves in an elite group and only worried about our own lives. Jesus “named” his disciples, that is he established them in unity “to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons.” This is what Jesus did: preaching the kingdom of God and casting out demons (Mk 1:27.39). The Church, founded on the Twelve, is called to continue this very work through the centuries and throughout the entire world. However, the Christian community is not anonymous: it is not composed of people who do not have connections with one another and do not know each other. The Lord has called the Twelve by name, one by one. Thus this first community of the Twelve was born. And in the same way even today, every Christian community continues to be born. Each one has his own name, her own story. And each one is entrusted with the mission to proclaim the Gospel and to cure diseases. The precondition to mission is that the apostle must first “be with Jesus.” We could say that the apostle is first and foremost a disciple, that is one who is with Jesus, who listens, who follows him. The close connection with the life and words of Jesus is the foundation of the apostolicity of the disciples. If they are with Jesus, they will go with him among the crowds and they will continue his work. John the evangelist shares that it is not by chance that Jesus tells them: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). It is Jesus who works through his Church.