Unlikely Apostles

 

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To: Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter’s Carpenter Shop
Nazareth 25922

From: Jordan Management Consultants

Dear Sir:

Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

The profiles of all tests are included, and you will want to study each of them carefully.

As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance, much as an auditor will include some general statements. This is given as a result of staff consultation, and comes without any additional fee.

It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew had been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.

We wish you every success in your new venture.

Sincerely,

Jordan Management Consultants

I have long thought that God has a very well developed sense of humor, and nowhere is that attribute of God more in evidence than in His selection of the human instruments He chooses to work His Will.  Saint Peter was a fisherman and God chose him to be the first Pope.  I assume that almost everyone, including Peter, thought that Christ had made a great mistake in doing this, since other than having a big heart, Peter had no other qualities to the casual observer that would explain why Christ chose him.  Such doubts were underlined when Peter, as predicted by Christ, denied Him three times after the arrest of Christ.  Yet Peter, after the Resurrection, would be transformed into a heroic leader, fearlessly preaching the message of Christ, leading the Church from a small band in Judea into a religion spanning the Mediterranean and beyond.  The big fisherman had been a good choice after all.

No such initial doubts would have concerned the worthiness of Saul of Tarsus for some important office.  He was a keen scholar of the Scriptures, a riveting speaker and utterly fearless.  He was also on the other side, a persecutor of Christianity as a hideous blasphemy against I AM.  In less than the twinkling of an eye God seizes upon His enemy and transforms him into a zealous champion of the New Way, a man who from being afraid of the transformation of Judaism by the teachings of Christ, into the Apostle of Christ to the Gentiles.

Both Peter and Paul would seal their missions with their deaths in Rome during Nero’s failed effort to blame the Christians for the Great Fire.  The Roman historian Tacitus was a young boy at this time and the persecution by Nero obviously made an indelible impress upon him:

Yet no human effort, no princely largess nor offerings to the gods could make that infamous rumor disappear that Nero had somehow ordered the fire. Therefore, in order to abolish that rumor, Nero falsely accused and executed with the most exquisite punishments those people called Christians, who were infamous for their abominations. The originator of the name, Christ, was executed as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius; and though repressed, this destructive superstition erupted again, not only through Judea, which was the origin of this evil, but also through the city of Rome, to which all that is horrible and shameful floods together and is celebrated. Therefore, first those were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much for the crime of burning the city, but for hatred of the human race. And perishing they were additionally made into sports: they were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps. Nero gave his own gardens for this spectacle and performed a Circus game, in the habit of a charioteer mixing with the plebs or driving about the race-course. Even though they were clearly guilty and merited being made the most recent example of the consequences of crime, people began to pity these sufferers, because they were consumed not for the public good but on account of the fierceness of one man.

And so God’s two unlikely paladins came together at the end to lead the Christians of Rome in their mass martyrdom that would only speed the growth of the Church.  God, as always, had chosen well, the wisdom of God being no less certain than His humor.

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