The Gospel according to Mark (16:15-18)
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I am in constant need of conversion. Help me to pray well so that, like St. Paul, I will radiate Christ with my entire life.
As most of us know (and if you don’t … good for you) it’s playoff time for the NFL playoffs. This Gospel passage reminds me of that because it references the 11 apostles, remember Judas is no longer. Now, there are 11 people in a football game, there’s another 42 on each sideline: and numerous (thousands) people watching the game from their homes or the stands. I also think about the coach sending out these men into battle to win for their team and fans.
I played a little football back in my days, and when I watch the game today, I think about how much fun it was to play. So, when watching the game today I ask myself do I enjoy watching the game from my couch? Would I prefer to be on the sidelines watching the game? Or would I prefer to be in battle on the field? It’s easy to watch the game while sitting in the comfort of your home, right? I wonder if it is that easy to be in the sidelines because you are not good enough to play. Or would you rather be in the game and give it your all because you BELIEVE in your cause or in this case your team?
I regard to what was written above, let’s replace the above scenario from football to what Jesus is telling the 11 apostles in today’s scripture. He is telling them to go out and spread the good Word. Nowhere in His Words did he say it was going to be easy. He is telling them to prepare yourselves because you will be facing your adversaries, the apostles will be facing demons. He is sending them into battle and as long as they believe and work cohesively as one team then they will be successful.
Our life is meant to be a proclamation of the Gospel to every living creature. The apostles experienced Jesus in their daily living with him. We experience him too—in our prayer, when we read the inspired words of Scripture, when we practice charity toward the least of my brothers and sisters. We also experience him in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist which is a deeper and more intimate experience than anything the apostles had up until the Last Supper.
This experience of Christ should transform us. We should be different from people who haven’t experienced Christ. How is it possible for someone who has received the living God himself in the Eucharist–even if it was only one time–how is it possible for that person to be unchanged?
And so, my sisters and brothers, I ask you … when it comes to your faith and Jesus (the coach) tells you it’s time to get into the game; do you want to watch from the comfort of your home? Or do want to watch from the sidelines? Or do you want to get in the game? Are you willing to challenge yourself and evangelize in what you believe in? Are you willing to face those demons with the same love and compassion that Jesus taught us? It’s not easy right? But the rewards are endless.
Closing Prayer: Lord, help me to stop resisting you. There are so many things in my life that compete with you for first place that you cannot show your goodness through me. Help me to see that until I open my heart to you entirely, I cannot be a saint—I cannot be a good person or even a nice person. Let me stop serving myself and dedicate myself to serving you and others.
Action of the Day: What are going to do to get back into the game?