On the Election of the Twelve Apostles.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Election of the Twelve Apostles.
When our Lord, after having healed the man who had the withered hand, had retired from among the Jews, He proceeded to accomplish another great work, one in fact of the most momentous upon earth, on which the greatest results depended, the election of the twelve apostles. He was about to lay the foundation whereon His Church was to be built, to appoint the twelve principal leaders of the army which was destined to effect the spiritual conquest of the world, to kindle the twelve torches which were to spread the light of the Gospel in the dark quarters of the earth. How great, how all-important a choice!
1st. Consider that Jesus prepares Himself in a special manner before making the choice of the apostles. Not content with having associated for a whole year with the disciples whom He is going to elect, forming them to the practice of every virtue, teaching and training them by His precept and His example, He spends the whole of the previous night in prayer, in instant, unremitting, fervent supplication on behalf of the men whom He is about to appoint as His apostles, on the choice of whom the salvation of so many thousands depends. Hence learn of Jesus, my soul, never to undertake any work for the salvation of souls without serious forethought, conscientious preparation, without fervent prayer. It is wrong-headed and presumptuous to engage in any important enterprise without such previous preparation as is befitting. St. Gregory says it is one’s duty to exhort those who would do so to reflect how young birds, if they attempt to fly before they are fully fledged, are sure to fall to the ground, and it is their desire prematurely to soar aloft which is the very cause of their fall. To commence a work having for its object our own spiritual advancement or the spiritual welfare of others without due preparation, is a wanton trifling with holy things. Preachers, Confessors, Superiors who act thus are denominated by St. Jude as: “Clouds without water which are carried about by the winds.” They only disturb the face of the sky and do no good to the earth.
2d. Consider that Judas Iscariot was amongst the twelve apostles whom our Lord elected. Since Christ made the choice of these men with so much solemnity and such scrupulous care, we are warranted in assuming that Judas was not then such a grievous sinner, not so enslaved by avarice as he subsequently proved himself to be. If that is so, what a solemn truth this circumstance affords for our meditation! During his intercourse with Jesus Judas becomes a worse man than he was before. After he was made an apostle, Judas fell into evil ways into which while he remained an ordinary Jew he did not stray. Treated by our Lord as an intimate friend for friend is the appellation Jesus Himself gives him Judas becomes a traitor. What an appalling fact is this, well calculated to inspire us with salutary fear! Our Lord has called you likewise to be one of His closest followers. You pursue a sacred calling, you dwell in a house consecrated to God, you enjoy the company of the devout. But remember this: No calling was more sacred than the apostolate, no company more devout than that of the apostles, no intercourse more edifying than that of our Lord, and yet one who shared in all these privileges became a Judas. Consequently we see that no condition of life, no place of abode, no prominent characteristic is a preventive against falling into sin. “You are not more holy than David, not more wise than Solomon, not more powerful than Samson,” exclaims St. Jerome, “yet all these three men fell.” Wherefore, my soul, cherish continually a holy mistrust of yourself; never deem yourself secure, for never are you so near falling as when you think yourself farthest removed from it.
3d. Consider the height to which the apostles attained, and the proportionate depth to which Judas fell. They rose so high
- because they persevered faithfully in the vocation for which God had chosen them,
- because they cooperated faithfully with the grace our Lord had given them;
whereas Judas fell
- because he neglected his vocation,
- because his will was opposed to the will of God,
- because through theft and other sins he determinately struggled with and finally stifled grace in his soul.
The option rests with you to follow the one or the other course. A great reward awaits those who can say with St. Peter: “Behold, we have left all things and have followed Thee.” We are told that they who do so “shall receive an hundred fold.” (St. Matt. xix. 27.) “We have pledged ourselves to perform great things,” says St. Francis, “but yet greater things are promised us. If we do not keep our vows, if, in defiance of the Apostle’s warning, we neglect the grace which is given us, woe betide us; it would have been better for us to remain in the world, for then our punishment would have been lighter. To whom much is given from him shall much be required.” Judas, who was so highly privileged, became a traitor, a prey to despair, whilst Dismas, the thief, to whose heart the voice of grace had but once appealed, had paradise promised to him. The greater the grace that is abused, the more severe will be the chastisement inflicted. Reflect upon this, and make your resolutions accordingly.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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