Once a leader is ready to raise his banner, he calls to his side those he has already chosen to be his key co-operators.
Jesus chose twelve men. Not a single woman! Did he consider women to be inferior? Not at all!
The Evangelists were sufficiently aware of the importance of this as to highlight his loving, trusting relationships with a variety of women. So why no female Apostles?
No doubt timeless concerns, akin, perhaps, to those surrounding the crewing of some modern naval vessels, could have been relevant, but I think that it was simply a case of traditional social distinctions having become deeply ingrained in the mind set of the people of Israel. A mindset generally shared by both sexes.
So Jesus contented Himself with sowing the seeds of justice based equality, but it would be up to others to see them through to fruition. A process, which, to our shame, remains far from completed.
The bottom line was that Jesus could not afford to pretend that He was in another society in a future century. It would not have worked and His message would have gone unheeded if not unheard. Like any good pastoral worker, He had to meet people where they were and only confront them when He saw that the moment was right.
So Jesus picked twelve men.
(I have it on pretty good authority that the only stipulation He made was that their Mother's had to be Irish.)
That having been said, can there be any doubt that today he would have chosen from among both men and women?
As it was, the men he chose were not that exceptional. In fact they were very ordinary. They were common people without any special education or advantage. Jesus saw in them what he sees in us. That is to say, not so much what we are as what we can become in his company, under his influence.
You know, the worst mistake that you and I can make is to think that we have nothing to offer. In Jesus' sight there is a potential for greatness in each one of us. A greatness which once attained may well remain unsung by others, but a true and effective greatness nonetheless.
Jesus saw Christianity as the logical extension of Judaism and so it made sense that the Apostles first addressed their own people. It would be left to Paul and his disciples to introduce the Gospel to the non-Jewish world.
When the Apostles came together they were an unbelievable mixture. Before going out on their own they were required to live together with Him in their midst. Being in His presence and under His influence was pivotal. Not only did each of them, with one exception, become what he prayed they would be, but, within their little community, they proved that being united through the person and life of Jesus is the ultimate answer to conflict.
Matthew was a tax collector, a traitor, a sell-out to the Romans. Simon the Zealot, not to be confused with Simon Peter, was a freedom fighter, an ultra-nationalist. For Simon to sink his blade into Matthew's back would be the natural thing to do.
Therein lies a very important message for every person in the world. Through Jesus they became brothers. Simon and Matthew became brothers, agreeing to share a common life, a common mission, a common death and a common hope.
Indeed our hope, the hope of humanity is in the Name of the Lord.