Have you ever wondered why Christ appeared to just choose his apostles at random? He would just pass by a certain place, and upon seeing someone, he would just say, “Come, follow me.” And wonder of wonders, the person called would just follow him without any question. In fact, it is said that the person called would just leave everything behind (“relictis omnibus”).
I guess the only plausible answer to that question is that Christ had all the right to do so, and the person called also had the duty of respond accordingly, because in the final analysis, all of us are actually meant to be an apostle. That is to say, to be some kind of ambassador, a representative of Christ on earth.
At bottom, the answer is because we are supposed to be like Christ, another Christ, if not Christ himself (“alter Christus,” and even “ipse Christus”). All of us are patterned after Christ, and so we cannot avoid being involved in the mission of Christ which is the salvation of all mankind.
We are all meant to be apostles of Christ with the lifelong concern for doing apostolate, taking advantage of all the occasions and situations in life. Vatican II spells it out very clearly. “The Christian vocation is by its very nature a vocation to the apostolate.” (Apostolicam actuositatem, 2) So, anyone who wants to be truly consistent to his Christian identity and calling should realize ever deeply that he is called to help others get closer to God. This is what apostolate is all about.
This duty actually springs first of all from our nature. We are not only individual persons. We are also a social being. Our sociability is not an optional feature. It is part of our essence, violating which would be equivalent to violating our very own nature.
We can never live alone. We need to be with others. And more, we need to care for one another. We have to be responsible for one another. And while this caring and loving starts with the most immediate material human needs like food, clothing, etc., it has to go all the way to the spiritual and more important needs of ours.
That’s why we need to practice affection, compassion, understanding, patience and mercy on everyone. We have to understand though that all these can only take place if they spring and tend towards God, “the source of all good things” for us.
We need to be familiar with this Christian duty. We have to do apostolate, and we need to see to it that the zeal for it is always nourished, stoked and fanned to its most intense degree.
Before ascending into heaven, Christ told his apostles: “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” (Mt 28,18-19)
While addressed directly to his apostles, these words are meant for all those who want to follow Christ. To do apostolate is part of a Christian’s duty. It’s part of a Christian’s identity. A Christian is always an apostle. No one is excused from it.
We have to understand that these parting words of Christ represent his culminating and ultimate desire for our redemption. We can say that all he did in his earthly life—his preaching, doing miracles, his dying—get somehow summarized in this one great desire of God—the salvation of men!*