Pope Francis continued his General Audience catecheses on the Acts of the Apostles on June 12, 2019, by showing how Luke’s text shows how the Gospel goes “beyond, beyond, beyond” — and how the 11 were restored to 12.
“It all starts from the Resurrection of Christ,” the Holy Father explained. “This, in fact, is not an event among others but is the source of the new life. The disciples know it and — obedient to Jesus’ command — they remain united, in agreement and persevering in prayer. They stay close to Mary, the Mother, and they prepare to receive the power of God, not passively but consolidating the communion among them.”
The Pope taught about the importance of the number of 12, which represented the 12 tribes of Israel. The first Christian community had 120 brothers and sisters. And, of course, Jesus chose 12 disciples. But with the loss of Judas, the number of apostles was reduced to 11.
“Judas had received the great grace of being part of the group of Jesus’ intimates and of taking part in his same ministry but, at a certain point, he claimed to save his own life by himself with the result of losing it (Cf. Luke 9:24),” Francis lamented. ” He ceased to belong to Jesus with his heart and put himself outside of communion with Him and His own.
“The evangelist Luke makes us see that in face of the abandonment of one of the 12, which created a wound in the community’s body, it’s necessary that his task pass to another. And who could assume it?
“It’s necessary to reconstitute the group of the Twelve. At this point, the practice begins of community discernment, which consists in seeing the reality with the eyes of God, from the viewpoint of unity and communion.”
Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias were the two candidates for the 12th spot, Francis explained. The community prayed, discerned, and voted: Matthias won.
“Thus, the body of the Twelve was reconstituted, a sign that communion wins over divisions, over isolation, over the mentality that absolutizes private space, sign that communion is the first testimony that the Apostles offer.
“In the Acts of the Apostles, the 12 manifest the Lord’s style. They are accredited witnesses of Christ’s work of salvation and they don’t manifest to the world their presumed perfection but, through the grace of unity, they make another emerge, who now lives in a new way in the midst of His people.
“And who is this? It is the Lord Jesus. The Apostles chose to live under the lordship of the Risen One in unity among brothers, which becomes the only atmosphere possible for the genuine gift of self.”