Holy Preachers

“Holy Preachers”
A reflection on Mark 3:11-19
Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
©️2022 by Gloria M. Chang

And whenever unclean spirits saw Jesus they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known.

He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve whom he also named apostles that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: 

He appointed the twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Mark 3:11-19

Chosen on a Mountain

Today’s couplet was inspired by St. Bede, who wrote:

After having forbidden the evil spirits to preach Him, He chose holy men, to cast out the unclean spirits, and to preach the Gospel; wherefore it is said, And he went up into a mountain, &c.

Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas, Mark 3:13-19

Face to face with his Father on a mountain, Jesus, the new Moses, chose twelve men to “be with him” in establishing the new Israel. Corresponding to the twelve tribes, the apostles (“those who are sent”) will carry his message to the ends of the earth, drawing all nations to the “mountain of the Lord’s house” (Isaiah 2:2; Acts 1:8).

Testimony of the Holy Spirit

Upon those entrusted with his Father’s mission, Jesus conferred his authority “to preach” and “to drive out demons.” Holy preaching and exorcism are a “demonstration of the Spirit and power” (1 Corinthians 2:4, RSV).

Unlike demonic witnesses, Spirit-breathed apostles preach the truth in love (John 20:22). Apart from the Spirit, no one can proclaim the lordship of Christ.

And no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:3 (RSV)

What Demons Cannot Profess

Notably absent from the proclamations of evil spirits is the acknowledgement that “Jesus is Lord” (Kyrios Iēsous). Their hostile naming is cold, objectifying, and non-relational: 

“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

Mark 1:24

“You are the Son of God.”

Mark 3:11

“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”

Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:7;  Luke 8:28

Jesus Christ is Lord

Only a lover and friend of God—a Theophilus (Luke 1:3)—can say “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:11). The Greek word kyrios means “lord,” “master,” and “owner,” exercising absolute ownership rights. The Hebrew equivalent, Adonai, comes from adon, which also means “lord,” “master,” and “owner.” Demons, who hate Christ, cannot bow down and worship him as Lord.

To accept the lordship of Christ is to cease being his enemy and to enter into a union of wills with him. “I have called you friends,” Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper, “because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father” (John 15:15).

Peter and the Sons of Thunder

Jesus’ closest disciples received names that signified their divinely appointed roles in the apostolic mission. Peter is the “rock” upon which Christ will build his church, “and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Nicknamed by Jesus the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17), James and John bear an appellation that recalls the prophecy of Haggai:

In just a little while,
I will shake the heavens and the earth,
the sea and the dry land.

I will shake all the nations,
so that the treasures of all the nations will come in.
And I will fill this house with glory—
says the Lord of hosts.

Haggai 2:6-7

Transliterated from two Semitic roots—ben (sons) and regesh (of thunder, tumult)—the Greek name Boanergés (Sons of Thunder) foretold their apostolic fruitfulness. In Haggai, the verb raash (to quake, shake) is cognate with the duo’s regesh (of thunder, tumult). 

In fulfillment of the prophets, the Twelve shook the nations by the power of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming “Jesus Christ is Lord” to the ends of the earth.

The Twelve, including Peter and the Sons of Thunder,
Proclaimed the Christ in lieu of spirits from hell under.


1 See the Benson Commentary on Mark 3:17. 

3 Replies to “Holy Preachers”

  1. He sent a group of twelve,
    As diverse as can be,
    He said,”Preach Good News,
    Tell them about me.”
    Would they be heard,
    Or would they be mostly ignored?
    Holy Spirit filled their hearts,
    In hardships, their faith restored.

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