Ephesus, A.D. 67, at the home of John and Mary, with visitors and new converts, Linus and Agnes.
John: It is so good of you to visit us, dear Linus and Agnes.
Linus: It is a deep honor for us, beloved John and mother, Mary.
Mary: Come and sit down and let me wash your feet.
Agnes: Oh, Mary, please, don't bother for us.
John: Dear friends, let her show you this graciousness.
Linus: Thank you, dearest mother. As you know, we have recently been baptized and received the Holy Spirit. We believe it is the Holy Spirit who has brought us to you to ask you a few questions about your memories of Jesus. To be with his own mother and his beloved disciple, for even a brief time, would be such a special grace for us.
Mary: You must know that we love to talk about Jesus. And, please trust and believe that whenever we are gathered together in his name, he is really with us. Thank you for letting me wash your feet. There, now you are at home in our home.
John: What do you wish to ask us about Jesus?
Linus: Well, we have been thinking about our discipleship and the mission Jesus gives us to wash each other's feet, as you have done for us, dear mother. So, naturally, we have asked ourselves what qualifications Jesus had for his own disciples while he walked this earth.
Agnes: Specifically, we know that you were both there the day he named the Twelve. How did he come upon those Twelve? Why them? We know about you, as the disciple he loved. Of course, we know about Peter, who was recently crucified in Rome, shedding his blood for the faith. We've heard of James and his ministry in Jerusalem. We've heard the stories about Andrew and Nathaniel, and, of course, Thomas. We know the tragic story of Judas who betrayed him. But, we know so little about the others. Why did he pick those Twelve?
John: (Laughing) Stop smiling like that, mother.
Mary: We are smiling like this, dear brother and sister, because Jesus was just like that. He surprised us so much by the way he broke through all the conventions. All of the Twelve were in our group, from the beginning, but no one would have guessed he'd pick that group. There were other disciples who were more educated in the tradition of our ancestors and there were others who showed more potential for leadership or had earned the respect of the group. (Smiling again) But, Jesus had his ways. And, he showed us his way, in everything he did.
John: It was a wonderful day. Everyone who was there that day felt this powerful attraction to him. I somehow knew that he would fill everything that was lacking in me. But, when he announced our names, my heart started beating faster and I was shocked and thrilled. And when he told us to share the news that "the Kingdom of God was at hand," you could have felt the excitement in the crowd.
Agnes: That must have been so exciting.
Linus: But, did you have a sense of why he called you, specifically?
John: No. I had no sense at all.
Mary: Jesus had such a sense of the human heart. I'm sure, now that he is so completely in the Father and the Father is in him, he reads our hearts even more deeply. He picked those twelve because he loved the openness of their hearts, even though he knew there was weakness in each of them.
John: He knew each of us had fear in our hearts, too. He knew we weren't completely free. He knew the vulnerabilities each of us had. But, we knew he loved us and had chosen us.
Mary: I watched those twelve men very closely during those years, and we formed a close knit community as we traveled together with him. They all grew. Yes, Peter was impulsive, but all of us could tell that Jesus knew he could use Peter. Nathaniel was so innocent. Thomas was so precious in his demand to be sure before he believed. And, of course, Judas, the one who betrayed him, was so complex and resistant to surrendering to Jesus' way.
Agnes: So, Jesus picked them BECAUSE they were weak?
John: It is probably better to say that Jesus knew then and knows now that we are all sinners. Whoever he had chosen would have been weak. He picked them - and, I might add, he chose you and Linus - desiring to help us all know we need a Savior. Touching our hearts with his loving mercy, he is better able to send us to do the one thing he calls us to do: love others - including other sinners - the same way he loves us.
Mary: The important thing to remember, dear friends, is that if you hear Jesus' words and keep them close to your heart and live them, you will be as close to him as we are. Let him love you and forgive you. And remember, it was the gift of the Holy Spirit that set all of his apostles' hearts on fire. Judas, unfortunately, wanted Jesus to come around to Judas' way of seeing and doing things. Let the Spirit help you come around to Jesus' way of seeing and doing things, and you will become his followers all the days of your lives.
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