Fr. John J Pasquini, Th.D.
After the betrayal of Judas and the arrest of Jesus, the apostles ran away for fear of being captured and killed. Only the apostle John, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, Joses, and Salome had the strength to stand at the foot of the cross and see Jesus die. The apostles scattered, finally hiding in the upper room fearing what would happen. Would they be captured? Would they be forgotten? What were they to do? Perhaps they hoped that all would just go away!
Then something happened on Sunday that would forever change the lives of the apostles and the world. What was this something that happened? Frightened apostles and disciples became suddenly courageous. Where once they ran, now they stood with dignity. Where once they hid, they now went to proclaim the Gospel on the rooftops to the whole world.
James the Great, the son of Zebedee, evangelized Palestine and perhaps Spain. He was decapitated in 43 AD in Jerusalem. Matthias evangelized Palestine, Scythia, and Armenia. On his return to Jerusalem in 51 he was stoned to death by a mob. Nathaniel (Bartholomew) evangelized Palestine, Asia Minor, Armenia, central India and Iran. He was flayed and crucified in Iran in 57 AD. James the Less, the son of Alphaeus, evangelized Palestine and was stoned to death by a mob in the year 60. Andrew evangelized Palestine, Asia Minor, Scythia, and Greece. He was crucified in Patras, Greece in the year 65. Simon bar Jonah, who would forever be known as Peter, the Rock, evangelized Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor and Rome. He was crucified upside down during the persecution of the emperor Nero and buried on Vatican Hill in the year 67 AD. Thomas evangelized Palestine, Osroene, Armenia, Egypt, and India. His great efforts in India earned him the title of “Apostle to the Indians.” He was stabbed to death in the midst of a Hindu mob in Burma in 72 AD. Simon the Zealot evangelized Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, Britain, and Iran and Jude evangelized Palestine, Osroene, Armenia, and Iran. While Simon and Jude were in Iran, they were attacked by a mob led by pagan magi and were killed: Simon being mutilated and sawed to pieces, and Jude being impaled by a spear. Both died in 79 AD. Philip evangelized Palestine, North Africa, and Asia Minor. He was crucified upside down in 87. Matthew evangelized Palestine, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Iran. It is unknown how Matthew died: some accounts have him as martyred and others have him as dying of natural causes in 90 AD. The apostle John was the last to die after evangelizing Palestine and Asia Minor. He died in exile in the year 100. His death marked the end of the apostolic age.
What can explain this change? Frightened apostles and disciples became suddenly courageous. What made the apostles willing to die, even after some 60 years after Jesus’ crucifixion? Are we dealing with coincidence, chance, synchronicity? Or did they really see a resurrected Christ?