The Gospel according to Mark (16:15-20)
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.”
Then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
Reflection: Why did the Apostles fail to believe Jesus had risen from the dead? They had seen so many amazing miracles firsthand from Jesus. They lived with Him day in and day out for three years. They heard Him preach and teach with perfect authority and grace. And now, after He rose from the dead, their hearts were hardened and they did not immediately believe. Jesus had to appear to them and offer this proof to their own eyes.
This struggle that the Apostles went through is one that is all too common for us humans. When we are challenged, it’s a struggle to have faith and believe. The apostles wanted to believe, but they couldn’t let themselves freely embrace the Resurrection with true faith until they had some proof. Sound familiar?! Little did they know that all the proof they needed was already within them.
Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff writes that even the simple statement, “I believe in God,” offers us an intimate reminder that we are not alone: To say “I believe in God” means that there is Someone who surrounds me, embraces me everywhere, and loves me, Someone who knows me better than I do myself, deep down in my heart, where not even my beloved can reach, Someone who knows the secret of all mysteries and where all roads lead. I am not alone in this open universe with all my questions for which no one offers me a satisfactory answer. That Someone is with me, and exists for me, and I exist for that Someone and in that Someone’s presence. Believing in God means saying: there exists an ultimate tenderness, an ultimate bosom, an infinite womb, in which I can take refuge and finally have peace in the serenity of love. If that is so, believing in God is worthwhile; it makes us more ourselves and empowers our humanity.
According to today’s Scripture, there are four basic things Jesus promises will happen. He promises that those who have faith will 1) be victorious over the evil one, 2) we will learn to communicate in a new way, 3) face worldly dangers and be protected, and 4) be a source of healing for others.
First, the evil one is real and is constantly trying to frighten us and overwhelm us. But, by analogy, the evil one is like a small dog who has an obnoxious bark, and little bite. The “barking” may be frightening at times.
Second, we are called to “speak new languages”. We are called to speak and communicate in the language of God and to become His mouth for a world in need.
Third, there will be many struggles we face in this life. Jesus promises the grace to overcome the many dangers and struggles we will face in life if we but let Him.
Lastly, Jesus came to heal, especially our souls, and he wants us to be instruments of healing for those whom we encounter every day.
“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability”. – John Wooden
Action of the Day: Today is the Feast Day if St. Mark, whom was a great evangelist for Christ. Reflect, today, upon the fact that we are all called to share in the mission of evangelization. Ponder these callings in life as outlined above and if one stands out and speaks to you in a unique way, listen to it carefully. It may be God calling you to share more fully in His divine mission.