The story is told of an artist who set himself to paint the Last Supper. The project would take him many years to complete. Beginning with the figure of Christ, he found a man with a face of such purity that he chose him for the model. One by one, he painted all the disciples around the Table. All, that is, except Judas. He had looked far and wide but never seemed to be able to find one whose face reflected the tragedy of Judas. He searched in the lowest haunts of society and at last found a man so depraved that he took him for a model.
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As Jesus calls his disciples it seems like he has a criterion for the people with which he wants to surround himself. It may not always be obvious in the Biblical account, but Jesus is careful to choose people who are really committed to his message. With their help, Jesus will be able to do more and spread the word about God farther.
There are always difficulties in Christian ministry, at whichever level you're involved in it, from church cleaner to the Archbishop of Canterbury. There's always someone who'll find fault, and if like the Archbishop, you're a subject of media interest, then I should imagine Christian ministry can be very difficult indeed and perhaps something of a burden.
In today's Gospel text, Jesus calls for repentance, expects Peter and Andrew to drop their nets and follow him, and calls James and John to leave their Father Zebedee in the boat without so much as a "So long, see you later."
My task today is to issue that same call to repentance, that same call to radical obedience and decisive discipleship. For that call is urgent and cries out to be issued in all of its majesty and might.