Talent Scouts: eagled-eyed, sharp-eyed searchers, explorers. These are shrewd people who know a good thing when they see it…some gifted person who appears to be full of promise…a good investment…someone who is worth giving a chance with good money. This talent spotting, talent nurturing becomes big business when it comes to modern team sports. Cricket, football, basketball – to name just a few. Superbly talented persons are brought together to develop their individual skills.
Every manager of a sport's team – would give the world to be able to produce a Dream Team – dazzling in performance, unrivalled in successes. ‘A DREAM TEAM!’ Just think of it , ‘A DREAM TEAM! My friend Wikipedia tells me, ‘The 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team, nicknamed the "Dream Team", was described by American journalists as the greatest sports team ever assembled.’ Now, the Father had sent His Son into the world to launch a project which would change the whole course of human history…nothing less than to promote and plant the Kingdom of God on earth! If He were ever to succeed in this He would surely need a ‘Dream Team’ to assist Him.
The obvious place to find suitably gifted recruits would surely have been Jerusalem...people fully at home with the Sacred Scriptures, devout men quick to learn and experienced in the fine arts of persuasion and teaching; also people skilled in administration and in the astute management of finances. Very different was the strategy of Jesus - strolling along the shore of the Lake of Galilee; casually preaching, healing a few and personally inviting one or two to tag along with the group that was hanging around Him. St. Luke tells us that a while later Jesus spent a night in prayer. Then He selected from these disciples a dozen of them and appointed them to be a kind of core group. It would seem that the most important thing was that they should learn to believe in Him and acquire an attachment of loyalty to Him. As for qualifications, these chosen ones were fishermen expert in the trade, one, the tax-collector, had a certain competence in financial matters. Not much for Jesus to work with here; with all their wrangling and rivalry, they did not give Jesus an easy time in forming them into a team. Their terms of reference would be to proclaim and promote to the world the Good News that is Jesus Himself; to bring to mankind the Good News of the conquest of sin and death by the crucifixion and death of Jesus; guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit they were to establish on earth the Reign of God – one of truth, life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace. Most surely a daunting task. Such a DREAM TEAM would have to be quite literally out of this world. Jesus never expected to find a Dream Team to work with, nor did He ever expect to be able to create one…glittering with talent….faultless in character. He never had that advantage…He has never granted it to us. Recently when preaching on this theme I asked my congregation in Barbados if they ever had a dream team of clergy in the diocese; a dream choir in the loft, dream organizations, groups or individuals in the parish; or, a dream team in the Vatican. To keep you happy I wish sweet dreams to one and all.
But don’t despair; don’t drown yourselves in cynicism. It’s never been a matter of what we do with our talents, which may be considerable, but what Jesus does with our talents; what He does with us through us and even for us. Unless we’re humble we might choke on these words of St. Paul, "It is not that we are so competent that we can claim any credit for ourselves; all our competence comes from God," (2 Cor. 3.5 ) If we have a very deep faith in Jesus then we shall be greatly assured that He said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing," (Jn.15.5) and we can even stand tall as we take to ourselves what St. Paul wrote to the Church of Ephesus,(2.10), "We are God's work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life,"
From all this I unravel that Jesus never expected to have a DREAM TEAM above criticism and condemnation coordinating and promoting Church’s mission of evangelization and sanctification. The very people He chose at the beginning and then His Church itself – in every aspect and dimension of its life - would always be in need of repentance and renewal.
Only in Jesus, the Founder and Head of the Church, is to be found absolute and unquestionable perfection. And Jesus is no dream…He is for real.Peter O.P.