This Sunday’s text brings to mind the opening scenes of “The Dirty Dozen.” Lee Marvin as WWII army Major Reisman meets twelve life or death sentence military prisoners who become his team for a suicide mission against a posh Nazi retreat for top officers. One tries to imagine how the major will even keep the group of murderers, thieves and psychopaths together long enough to get to their target, much less succeed in their mission.
In Mark 3:7-19, we find Jesus responding to the press of huge crowds by assembling His own “dirty dozen,” a motley crew of fishermen, a tax collector, a couple political radicals ( one of who may be a terrorist assassin), and several men so non-descript that we don’t know much more about them than their names.
It’s all a wonderful image of the reality of the Church, as our Lord continues to assemble a motley crew of people of all sorts, including many disreputable or undistinguished characters. Somehow Christ welcomes and accepts all of us and transforms us together into a force that keeps going forward with His good news and with acts of love that bring hope and healing to our world.
As Paul says in I Corinthians 1:26, not many whom the Lord calls into his church are wise or powerful or particularly well-born. None of us deserve our place on the team. Instead, what we see in our life together as the Church is the Lord’s wisdom, power and noble birth as the Son of God, living in us and knitting us into something greater that we cannot be on our own.
Thanks be to God for the “dirty dozen” that got it all rolling, and thanks be to Him for continuing that same program of including even the most unlikely of us in His Church.