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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus chooses the Twelve, whom he names Apostles.

In the apse of the church of San Clemente in Rome, there is a gorgeous twelfth-century mosaic that gives visual expression to the call of the Twelve. At the center of the composition is the crucified Jesus. Surrounding the cross are twelve doves, symbolizing the Apostles, who would fly around the world with the message of salvation. 

No biblical figure is ever given an experience of God without receiving, at the same time, a commission. Moses spies the burning bush, hears the sacred name of Yahweh, and is then told to go back to Egypt to liberate his people; Isaiah enjoys an encounter with God amidst the splendor of the temple liturgy and is then sent to preach; Saul is overwhelmed by the luminosity of the risen Jesus and is subsequently called to apostleship.

Now the Apostles are not simply a distant memory; rather, they live on through what we call the apostolic succession. Therefore, the apostolicity of the Church is our guarantee that we are, despite many developments and changes across the centuries, still preserving the faith that was first kindled in that company of Jesus’ friends.