A. The bishops, as successors of the Apostles.
B. All followers of Jesus Christ, men and women, both ordained and lay.
C. Catholic men.
D. Keep reading.
Go back and remember what your priest or deacon preached about yesterday’s Gospel at Mass. (Reminder: Peter = Satan, somehow; pick up your cross and die, etc.) Okay, it’s likely from the context that Our Lord said this to the twelve Apostles and perhaps a larger circle, but He probably did not announce it to a large crowd of disciples, much less to a mixed crowd of followers and the merely curious. So, perhaps it was just for the Twelve. We probably don’t buy that, if for no other reason than that Christ’s statements here eventually entered the inspired text of Matthew’s Gospel, to be heard and read by lots of people for the next two millennia, and explained and preached by some very fine Churchmen as applying, at least in part, to all Christians.
I chose the title “Men of Galilee” for a blog addressed to Catholic men, and so you’ve probably concluded that I voted for “C” above, and that I’m wrong. Otherwise, Christ’s words to the “daughters of Jerusalem” (Luke 23:28) are pertinent only to women, or only to Jewish women, or only to Jewish women residing in Jerusalem who are witnesses to Christ’s Passion.
So is there anything particular to any particular group smaller than all of Christ’s followers in yesterday’s passage, or any other portion of the Gospel? Careful! Jesus’ teaching about the poor: only about the poor, or only about certain kinds of poor, or about everybody because, gosh, aren’t we all poor? W.S. Gilbert cautions (in “The Gondoliers”), “If everyone is somebody, then no one’s anybody.” We preachers, at least, can be a bit clumsy in our exegetical universalism.
I would be amazed if this seemingly arcane reflection is not reminding you of a matter that is by no means insignificant and, indeed, has become white-hot over the past several decades. That is, does the Church’s insistence on the male-only priesthood rest on the anachronistic foundation of His restrictions in choosing only males for The Twelve? As some would retort, did He therefore also intend that the Church’s future leadership consist only fishermen, tax collectors, or zealots?
I’m not going there today. (Though I drive a Jeep, I do prefer a dodge from time to time.) We will need to address this topic in the days ahead, but let’s reel in our topic for today.
I will argue in the upcoming Monday* entries to this blog that Christ’s choice of a band of men to be His apostolic brothers and leaders of the Church was intentional and of lasting significance. Yes, “B” above is correct, in part, as is “A.” My focus will be on “C.” My invitation is “D.”
[*Mondays on this blog are devoted to “A View to the Horizon from the Galilee Shore,” focusing on issues of discipleship, brotherhood, and fraternal leadership in our Church and culture as Catholic men.]