Something which existed since the beginning,
that we have heard
and we have seen with our own eyes;
that we have watched
and touched with our hands:
the Word, who is life—
this is our subject.
(1 John 1:1)
As no other words in the New Testament, these words make clear that our ministerial vocation emerges out of an experience that involves our whole being. The subject of our ministry is Jesus Christ, the Word who was from the beginning with God and was made flesh to live among us (cf. John 1:1,14). To be a minister is to witness to this Word, to reveal the presence of this Word within us as well as among us. Yet, this witness, which takes the form of preaching and teaching, of celebrating and counseling, of organizing and struggling to alleviate the suffering of our fellow human beings, is a true witness only when it emerges out of a genuine personal encounter, a true experience of love. We can only call ourselves witnesses of Jesus Christ when we have heard him with our own ears, seen him with our own eyes, and touched him with our own hands.
The basis of the mission of the 12 apostles was not their knowledge, training, or character, but their having lived with Jesus. Paul, who was not with Jesus while he was traveling with his disciples, encountered him on the road to Damascus. This experience was the foundation on which all his apostolic work was built.