I was speaking with someone recently who confessed that, even when she knows where she is driving, she’ll use her GPS. “I like having a voice there talking to me,” she explained with a sheepish laugh. “It keeps me company.”
No one likes to feel alone.
Aristotle famously claimed that a man who is able to live entirely removed from the city, without the help of his fellow men, must either be a beast or a god. Man was made for society, for communion. “A social instinct is implanted in all men by nature,” he rightly observed (Politics, I, ii).
Why did our Lord call the Apostles? To preach and teach, to build up and lead the Church. All this is true. But the very first reason St. Mark gives in his Gospel is this: “that they might be with him” (Mk 3:14). Above all else, Christ’s followers were made for divine company. Emphasis on made.
At Mass, when Mark 3:14 is proclaimed, we hear that Christ “appointed Twelve.” This translation makes perfect sense. A more literal translation of the Greek verb contained here, however, also conveys the sense of “created”—Christ created the Twelve. In what David Bentley Hart describes as his “an almost pitilessly literal” translation of the New Testament (p. xvii), he renders it “made”—Christ made the Twelve.
This Greek verb harkens the reader back to the beginning. That is, the verb found in Mark 3:14 is the same one that appears in Genesis 1:1 in the Septuagint (the ancient translation of the Old Testament into Greek):
In the beginning, when God created [epoiēsen] the heavens and the earth…
He created [epoiēsen] the Twelve… that they might be with him…
There is something as fundamental to the call of discipleship as there is to the very act of creation. God creates—He gives being—in order that we might also follow Him and be with Him.
To be with Christ, as the disciples discovered at Pentecost, is to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). The action of the Holy Spirit is like GPS for the soul. The Spirit is with us to help us navigate the way. That way is Christ. And the way leads to our destination, our home with the Father.
So, by all means: keep the GPS on.
Image: Camille Corot, Windmill on the Cote de Picardie, near Versailles