There’s a temptation to narrow Jesus’ proclamation of the Good News to only what he said and did. But in his time the Kingdom also made itself known in the altered attitudes and behaviors of the circle of people who followed Him.
A clear instance is in St. Luke’s eighth chapter where we find Jesus on the road accompanied by a conglomeration of unlikely companions. There are these twelve men all of whom have left jobs and families to be in His company, then a number of women from various backgrounds who are also part of the entourage. (Luke is the gospel writer who gives the most prominence to women.) Some were fairly rich and connected, some poor, some married and others not. One had just been healed and a few of them were covering the expenses for the group. In that day, it would have turned heads to see such a disparate party walking along, spouses without their partners, women and men, intermixed social classes, and all seemingly getting along.
The band images God’s Kingdom, dissimilar groups led by Christ walking in harmony, all living out the Message as they travel along. They portray an ideal for the future with their different income levels and mixture of sexes, all supporting each other in a common purpose and so letting Jesus’ proclamation take on the flesh of human collaboration. Their very unity extends his words and actions onto the byways of the world.
Of interest here are the titles of two other discipleship bands who take to the road in later eras. There are the “Companions of Jesus,” all those Jesuits who gathered around St. Ignatius Loyola to remain in step with their “always greater” Lord as they struck out on the highways of their day. More familiar to us is “The Little Company,” the Congregation of priests and brothers inspired by St. Vincent, along with all the other collaborative groups marching in his footprints to bring the Good News to the poor.
Certainly the words and actions of such groups are meant to proclaim God’s Kingdom, but their very collaboration is itself an announcement of the Message. You might say it gives a halo effect to the language and works they do, provides a backdrop against which their message takes on sharper lines and more credibility.
The Lord Jesus preaches and teaches and acts — but he also gathers. The cohesion, purpose, and dedication of all those groupings is another proclamation of his saving Good News.