1) Opening prayer
Our God and Father,
your Son Jesus lived among us,
flesh of our flesh, blood of our blood.He died for our sake
and you raised him back to life.
May we experience his love and his presence
to such an extent
that we can never stop proclaiming
what we have seen and heard,
and that people may give glory to you, our God.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 16, 9-15
Having risen in the morning on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary of Magdala from whom he had cast out seven devils. She then went to those who had been his companions, and who were mourning and in tears, and told them. But they did not believe her when they heard her say that he was alive and that she had seen him.
After this, he showed himself under another form to two of them as they were on their way into the country. These went back and told the others, who did not believe them either.
Lastly, he showed himself to the Eleven themselves while they were at table. He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy, because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. And he said to them, 'Go out to the whole world; proclaim the gospel to all creation.
• Today’s Gospel forms part of a broader literary unit (Mk 16, 9-20) which places us before a list or summary of diverse apparitions of Jesus: (a) Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, but the disciples do not accept her testimony (Mk 16, 9-11); (b) Jesus appears to the disciples, but the others do not accept their testimony (Mk 16, 12-13); (c) Jesus appears to the eleven, he criticizes their lack of faith and orders them to announce the Good News to all (Mk 16, 14-18); (d) Jesus ascends to Heaven and continues to cooperate with the disciples (Mk 16, 19-20).
• Besides this list of apparitions in the Gospel of Mark, there are other lists of apparitions which do not always coincide among themselves. For example, the list kept by Paul in the Letter to the Corinthians is very different (1 Co 15, 3-8). This variety shows that at the beginning the Christians were not concerned to prove the Resurrection by means of the apparitions. For them faith in the Resurrection was so evident and alive that there was no need to prove it. A person who takes sun on the shore is not concerned in showing that the sun exists, because she herself, sun burnt, is the evident proof of the existence of the sun. The communities, existing in the midst of the immense Empire, were a living proof of the Resurrection. The list of the apparitions began to appear later, in the second generation in order to refute the criticism of the enemies.
• Mark 16, 9-11: Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, but the other disciples do not believe her. Jesus first appears to Mary Magdalene. She goes to announce this to the others. To come into the world, God wanted to depend on the womb of a young girl 15 or 16 years old, called Mary of Nazareth (Lk 1, 38). To be recognized alive in our midst, he wants to depend on the announcement of a woman who had been liberated from seven devils, also called Mary, of Magdala! (This is why she was called Mary Magdalene). But the others did not believe her. Mark says that Jesus appeared first to Magdalene. In the list of apparitions, transmitted in the letter to the Corinthians (1 Co 15, 3-8), the apparitions of Jesus to the women are not mentioned. The first Christians had difficulty to believe in the testimony of women. It is a sin!
• Mark 16, 12-13: Jesus appears to the disciples, but the others do not believe them. Without too many details, Mark refers to an apparition of Jesus to two disciples, “while they were on their way into the country”. This is perhaps a summary of the apparition of Jesus to the disciples of Emmaus, narrated by Luke (Lk 24, 13-35). Mark insists in saying that “the others did not believe them either”.
• Mark 16, 14-15: Jesus criticizes the unbelief and orders them to announce the Good News to all creatures. For this reason, Jesus appears to the Eleven and reproaches them because they had not believed the persons who had seen him resurrected. Once again, Mark refers to the resistance of the disciples in believing to believe the testimony of those who have experienced the Resurrection of Jesus. Why? Probably to teach three things. In the first place that faith in Jesus passes through the faith in the persons who give witness. In the second place, that nobody should be discouraged, when the doubt or the unbelief arises in the heart. In the third place, in order to refute the criticism of those who said that the Christian is naïve and accepts without criticism any news, because the Eleven had great difficulty to accept the truth of the Resurrection!
• Today’s Gospel ends with the sending out: “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Gospel to all creation!” Jesus confers to them the mission to announce the Good News to all creatures.
4) Personal questions
• Mary Magdalene, the two disciples of Emmaus and the eleven disciples: who had the greatest difficulty to believe in the Resurrection? Why? With whom do I identify myself?
• Which are the signs which can convince persons of the presence of Jesus in our midst?
5) Concluding Prayer
May God show kindness and bless us,
and make his face shine on us.
Then the earth will acknowledge your ways,
and all nations your power to save. (Ps 671-2)