The Friendship with the Apostles
His Apostles should simply first be with him and share the fullness of his person and day-to-day existence as the basis for all subsequent apostolic activity
The Imitation of Christ says: "The highest cannot stand without the lowest." If Scripture compares the experience of the divine to very familiar human realities, it is obviously taking for granted that the earthly experience is a precursor, preparing us for the divine experience of love. I suppose this is why novice masters normally ask postulants whether they have ever fallen in love.
When we come to Jesus' relationship with his followers, the theme of friendship flowers everywhere; for discipleship is nothing other than faithful, obedient friendship with the Anointed One whom God has sent. To recall yet again a most significant detail from the Gospel narrative: I have always been immensely moved at reading early on in Mark the following account of the vocation of the Apostles: "And Jesus went up into the hills, and he called to him those whom he desired; and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach." This initial apartness high in the hills with Jesus of a tiny handful of men, this utter freedom of election according to Jesus' mysterious desire, this spontaneity and immediacy of response by the Apostles, and above all this intention of Jesus that his Apostles should simply first be with him and share the fullness of his person and day-to-day existence as the basis for all subsequent apostolic activity: What could better define discipleship as being at bottom a radical friendship with the incarnate Word, Jesus of Nazareth, son of God and Son of Mary?
Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, now known as Brother Simeon, is a Cistercian monk of Saint Joseph's Abbey, Spencer MA. He is a author of Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, a commentary on Saint Matthew's Gospel.