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

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

Holy preaching emanates from the life of Christ within: 

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

Galatians 2:20 (RSV)

Christ imparts his Spirit, without whom no one can proclaim the truth in love: 

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

1 Corinthians 12:3 (RSV)

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

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.”

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). 

Jesus’ closest disciples received names that signified their divinely appointed roles in the apostolic mission. Peter is the “rock” upon which Christ builds his church, “and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). James and John, the “sons of thunder,” 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

The Greek name Boanergés (sons of thunder) is an Aramaic term transliterated from two Semitic roots: ben (sons) and regesh (of thunder, tumult). The latter is cognate with the verb for “shake” in Haggai: raash (to quake, shake).1 

Jesus’ chosen friends who acknowledge his lordship receive from the Holy Spirit the unshakeable fortitude to proclaim his name 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. 

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