12 Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Prayer - A directive for doing God’s Mission. Our scripture is corroborated with numerous literary devices and one such device is symbolism. We cannot bypass the symbols in the Bible, which help us to sail in the theological currents in doing God’s Mission. (For example) The Genesis story conveys the power of God’s creativity and gently presents the human sin in the Garden myth by eating a forbidden fruit. The hidden truth of this myth explicits the first man who went away from God’s will. It’s not just about eating the fruit, but about breaching the contract with God and nature. After the fall of the man, the scripture registers the murder of a brother by his own sibling. It is not just killing the human body but the devilish act of jealousy which can’t even spare one's own blood. Thus, the ubiquity of symbols in scripture gives us the in-depth meaning to nurture ourselves to discover the basic human nature and divine nature for an effective and purposeful faith journey.
The New Testament portrays Jesus as a true human and a new creation of God who still stands as a torch in human history. The new Adam, Jesus was always God centric and lived in the world with his fullest human sensibilities. This sets a model for us to be God centric to have a meaningful human life; abundant for all. In John 6:38 Jesus affirms that “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me,” is self-evident about His intimacy with God who is the creative force and the life generating force. His ultimate concern was to do the will of God for the sake of Goodness and fullness amidst human complexities. His prayerful life with God energized him to engage in the mission in a valiant manner. He lived a life of solitude and was also busy with crowds in public ministries. However, his intrapersonal communication with God gave him the power to identify the disciples, to carry the mission and to transform the world. Right relationship with God is essential for doing God’s will in a public arena. Prayer life is embedded in the Jewish culture and in such tradition, Jesus was more transparent and intimate to God. Prayer is ‘God talk’ or allowing God to direct us to do His will. It's not dictating God to do our will which has narrow roots and destructive tones for human life.
Here we see Jesus identifies a team of twelve to carry on the mission for which he had prepared people from various backgrounds which talks about the heterogeneous community in doing God's mission. The nomenclature of every disciple which gives certain theological motifs to add meaning to our study. I am attempting to explore the etymological meaning to highlight the hidden traits.
1. Peter: “Petros” is a Greek word meaning “stone”. This was the name given to Simon by Jesus. We can say that God wants us to be strong as a stone in faith instead of being shallow. Many a times our faith battles in the ominous context and becomes incompetent. But God wants all his disciples to have courage. While they crucified Peter, he embraced it with courage. Let us be strong in the face of oppositions which are temporal and narrow.
2. Andrew: The Greek word “andreas” which derives from “andreios” gives us the meaning Man. In Hebrew the equivalent word is “adama” which can be interpreted as human. I feel we need to feel the humanness in us which the New Adam, Jesus, accomplished. The true humanness will discover divinity in us as well as in others.
3. James: James is a son of Zebedee and Salome. He is one of the first disciples to join Jesus Christ, being substantiated from other accounts. James derives from the Hebrew root of the name Jacob, which means, “sup planter”. We are called to be like James where we need to substitute Jesus in our world to carry the agenda of God. Every Christian is God’s own choice and thus we need to represent Jesus in our own context even in the context of death.
4. John: He is a brother of James and the meaning of John is “Grace”. This name introspects us to have a quality life in God by acknowledging the magnanimity of God and the realization of self. I feel ministry can’t be accelerated without knowing oneself; to know ourselves in total, we need to know the other. It is a process. Thus, we need to hope for the totality in God which gives us positive energy to walk the faith.
5. Philip: In the bible the meaning of Philip is, “warlike”, a lover of horses. Jesus, the man who wanted to ride in a colt called Philip as a disciple. We can amplify the name as a call to protest evil with vigor and courage. There is a constant war between the flesh and spirit. The following text John 15:18-21 will enable us to understand. “Jesus said to his disciples, "If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world— therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'Servants are not greater than their master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.” However, with Jesus we are called to protest with humility and love. This is a hard paradox to understand, we are called to be strong with humility and love to resist the mendacious forces of this world.
6. Bartholomew: It is a Jewish name from Aramaic roots meaning “Son of Talmai;” otherwise we can say “son of furrows” conveying the meaning, the person who is rich in land specially in plowing it. In a simple world we need to cultivate the land which is rugged and wasteful. We are called to transform the unused and abused land into useful one. This demands time, dedication and the knowledge about the land. When we translate the land to people, we need to nurture them with divine qualities to bear spiritual fruits. One of the requisites for us to be a caretaker or a disciple is to know the truth in Life. Jesus is our way, life and truth let us continue to anchor in Jesus and read our context carefully to cultivate the culture of Jesus, the culture of Love which offers life to everyone. Amen.
To be continued....