Chapter Six: The Disciples

           In chapter 6 of Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI discusses “The Disciples.” This chapter provides a review of the most important texts that discuss the call and mission of the community of Christ’s closest associates.

            The Holy Father begins by emphasizing this call as the fruit of prayerful intimacy of Christ with the Father, in stark contrast to the hiring of employees for a particular task. Regarding the call of the Twelve, Benedict studies the language used by Christ and finds allusions to Old Testament texts that disclose the apostolic mission as both priestly and prophetic.

            The Apostles are given what Benedict calls a double assignment – to be with Jesus, so as to be prepared to preach and call others to Him. “The Apostles have to learn to be with him in a way that enables them, even when they go to the ends of the earth, to be with him still.” This apostolic mission involves a struggle with evil, which involves the use of reason that exorcises and liberates those held captive.

            After discussing the particular call of the Twelve, he turns to consideration of the second group of seventy disciples. Drawing upon Old Testament texts, he explains, “seventy was considered to be the number of the nations of the world.”  Thus, while the Twelve Apostles represent the restoration of the tribes of Israel, the seventy represent the universal nature of the kingdom formed by Christ.

            As with most texts by Joseph Ratzinger, I found this selection to be both clear and inspiring, leaving the reader intellectually and spiritually nourished.

2 thoughts on “Chapter Six: The Disciples”

  1. The pope’s note on ‘The Apostles are given a double assignment – to be with Jesus, so as to be prepared to preach and call others to Him.’ reminds us of the fact that the disciples are not just apprentices, they are more especially, friends of Jesus, who he has revealed to, everything he had learnt from the father. The Apostles are therefore, the considered as the primary custodians of the Good News. This lends credence to the fact of Apostolic root and credibility in terms of the history of christianity and the question of the authenticity of true church.

  2. John, this is a very complete and well done analysis of this chapter in Ratzinger’s book. I couldn’t help but think about this chapter in light of our formation here at the Seminary. Ultimately, we are being called to first enter into an intimate relationship with Christ so that we can go out to preach and teach the Good News. While it is true that we might face adversity or difficult situations just like the disciples did, we can continue to find the necessary strength that is required to carry out The Mission as long as we always remain grounded in Christ. I think Ratzinger offers great insights and is truly a voice of great faith and reason!

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