Image: Kintsugi Pottery (internet image)
In yesterday’s gospel we were left with Jesus appealing, on behalf of the many people he encountered, for help in ministering to the people of God. In today’s gospel he begins to recruit those who will be invited to respond to the call. From his many disciples he has gathered the twelve that are closest to him and he will make them apostles. They will be given authority and power and called to go out and preach the Good News and to heal and teach in his name.
We celebrate the feast days of the Apostles when they appear on the liturgical calendar. We hold them in such high regard and consider them to be saints in heaven. Yet, as human beings they were no more than ordinary people. They had their gifts but also their flaws.
Peter, the one to whom Jesus gave the keys to the Kingdom, was at times cowardly and we know that he denied Jesus three times on the eve of the crucifixion. Thomas was a doubter; Matthew was a tax collector. James and John were prideful men who fought over who would be greatest. Judas, we know, would be the one who would betray Jesus and be directly implicated in his murder. All of them would fall asleep in the garden as Jesus waited for the soldiers to come and arrest him. All of them, save for the disciple that Jesus loved, would flee out of fear for their own safety when the time came for Jesus to give his life on the cross.
This is the lot that Jesus called and most of them persevered and allowed the Spirit to guide them as they undertook their mission. As they matured in their understanding of what God was calling them to, they became effective, not in spite of their flaws but because of who they were. God does not make junk and he transforms those things that we consider weaknesses into his into his finely tuned instruments.
The Japanese art form called Kintsugi involves artisans mending broken pottery with gold. The purpose is to recognize the intrinsic value and history of the piece not by hiding its flaws and imperfections but by highlighting them and making them a part of its overall beauty. This is what God does with us if we allow it. As our creator, He recognizes the strength and beauty that is in each one of us and loves us as we are and calls us to love one another as we journey together.
To be Apostles, to join in the mission of Christ we must allow ourselves to be transformed, warts and all. In the first reading today, Hosea calls out to the people of Israel to reform their ways and to remember their relationship with God. Unfortunately, they are too stubborn to hear the invitation to conversion. They are convinced that they are able to succeed all on their own and so the flaws inherent in their society eventually become their undoing. The same thing happened with Judas, who was probably one of the most gifted of the disciples as they had entrusted all their finances to him. Judas thought that he knew better than Jesus and he put his faith in his own plan rather than trusting in what God had in store.
There is no chance for redemption if we do not allow God to be part of the process. It takes trust, and at times it might be uncomfortable, perhaps even painful. Change is never easy. But God wants to bring out the beauty he sees in us and will not let a single broken piece be lost.