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Posted January 15, 2008

Book: The Call of the Disciple
Author: Klemens Stock
Edizioni Carmelitane, Roma. 2007. Pp. 94

An Excerpt from the Preface:

The Bible is the Word of God and always repays meditation and study. The Carmelite Rule, written in the early 13th century by St. Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1247, is full of direct biblical quotes and allusions. Lectio divina, prayerfully pondering the Holy Scripture, was the foundation of the prayer of all monks and hermits. This way of prayer has had a profound effect on the history of Christian spirituality. The first steps of Lectio divina are to read and meditate on the Word of God, which implies a certain amount of effort on our part. We must seek to get to know and understand the Scriptures.

Each year members of the Carmelite Family in Spain and Portugal gather together to study some aspect of Christian spirituality. For the gathering in the summer of 2005, the organizers decided to have a biblical theme and asked Fr. Klemens Stock to give the conferences. Fr. Stock is a Jesuit professor of New Testament exegesis at the prestigious Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He has written extensively on the New Testament. Fr. Stock chose to speak on the call received by Peter and Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Both are proposed to us as models and Mary is also our Mother who can guide us to Christ. We too have received a call to be disciples of Christ, or as we put it in the Carmelite tradition, to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ.

The conferences were published in Spanish in 2005. I read the book and believe that it should be made available also to an English speaking audience. This book gives solid scriptural scholarship in a simple form that can help every Christian understand his or her call more profoundly.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The triple call of Peter

Normally one speaks of one call of Peter, that is when he was fishing on the sea of Galilee with his brother Andrew. Jesus invited both of them to follow him. There is no doubt that this is the first and fundamental call, which constitutes the basis for the communion of life between Jesus and Peter. The other two calls are less visible, and represent a renewal of the first. They are caused by Peter’s opposition to his call and even because he interrupts it.

After Jesus announced his destiny to suffer, die and rise again, Peter did not want to follow him any more. Indeed Peter sought to change the whole orientation of Jesus’ ministry and life. At this point, he heard the command of Jesus to “Get behind me!”, which repeats the first command given to him by Jesus: “Come after me!” The first call that Jesus addressed to Peter is qualified by his second call. Despite the teaching of Jesus and the help he had given Peter and the other disciples, they soon found themselves in crisis. They follow Jesus on the way towards Jerusalem and even to the garden of Gethsemane but they do not accept his destiny. When Jesus was arrested by his enemies, and he began his way of the cross towards death, all the disciples fled, and Peter denied Jesus three times. They distanced themselves from Jesus and no longer followed him. There was an end of the communion of life between Jesus and the disciples, and they were incapable of re-establishing it.

However, Jesus had already spoken of their weakness and dispersal, but he immediately added: “After I shall have risen, I will go before you to Galilee. When Jesus in fact rose from the dead, the women heard at the empty tomb the Easter message and they received the task to: “Go, tell his disciples and Peter: He will go before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” There is not the explicit command: Get behind me! Follow me!, but it is clearly present in an implicit way in the phrases: “I will go before you in Galilee” and “He will go before you to Galilee.” Going ahead of implies following. Jesus is the one who always goes ahead because he knows the goal and determines the way. The disciples, on the other hand, are those who follow and they entrust themselves to be guided by Jesus. In the phrase: “He will go ahead of you to Galilee”, it is the risen Jesus who is explicitly spoken of but also the disciples are explicitly understood as those who will follow: He will go ahead of you. In other words, the message “he will precede you” contains implicitly the invitation and the exhortation “Follow him.” Therefore we can speak of a third call addressed to all the disciples but especially to Peter who is the only one mentioned by name, and because of the triple denial, he particularly needs to hear. This third call includes the forgiveness of the past infidelity and of the interrupted discipleship. It signifies reconciliation with Jesus and the renewal of the communion of life with him. The risen Jesus does not call new disciples, rejecting the first ones because they failed to follow him during his passion. He renews the call of these first disciples forgiving their faults and weakness. The failed disciples are invited to enter once again communion of life with Jesus, who has risen from the dead and has attained the goal of his journey, eternal life in full communion of life with God the Father.

Table of Contents:

1. The triple call of Peter

2. Formation of the disciples: knowing Jesus and having faith in him

3. The prayer of Jesus: union with the Father and instruction for the disciples

4. Mary, called to be the mother of the Lord

5. Mary the servant of the Lord