1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
there is much in us that obscures your word
and keeps us from being truly your Church.We pray you today:
Call us, as once you called Mark,
to speak and live your word.
Inspire us through your Spirit
and teach us to live in the hope
that your kingdom will come
and remain among us
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
now and for ever.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 16,15-20
Jesus said to the Eleven, 'Go out to the whole world; proclaim the gospel to all creation.
Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.' And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven; there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.
• Today’s Gospel forms part of the appendix of the Gospel of Mark (Mk 16, 9-20) which presents the list of some apparitions of Jesus: to Magdalene (Mk 16, 9-11), to the two disciples who were walking out in the country (Mk 16, 12-13) and to the twelve apostles (Mk 16, 14-18). This last apparition together with the description of the Ascension into Heaven (Mk 16, 19-20) forms the Gospel for today.
• Mark 16, 14: The signs which accompany the announcement of the Good News. Jesus appears to the eleven disciples and reproaches them for not believing the persons who had seen him resurrected. They did not believe Mary Magdalene (Mk 16, 11), neither the two disciples on the road out in the country (Mk 16, 13). Several times, Mark refers to the resistance of the disciples in believing the witness of those who experienced the Resurrection of Jesus. Why does Mark insist so much on the lack of faith of the disciples? Probably, to teach two things: First, that faith in Jesus goes through faith in persons who give witness. Second, that no one should be discouraged when there is incredulity in the heart. Even the eleven disciples doubted!
• Mark 16, 15-18: The mission to announce the Good News to the whole world. After having criticized the lack of faith of the disciples, Jesus confers the mission to them: “Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned”. To those who had the courage to believe in the Good News and who are baptized, Jesus promises the following signs: they will cast out devils, they will have the gift of tongues, they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed if they drink deadly poison, they will lay their hands on the sick who will recover. This happens even today:
- to cast out devils: it is to fight against the force of evil which destroys life. The life of many persons improves because they entered into the community and have begun to live the Good News of the presence of God in their life.
- to speak new tongues: it means to begin to communicate with others in a new way. Sometimes we meet a person whom we have never seen before, but it seems to us that we have known her for some time. This happens because we speak the same language, the language of love.
- deadly poison will not harm them: there are many things that poison life together, community There is much gossiping which destroys the relationship between persons. The one who lives in the presence of God does not pay attention to these things and is able not to be disturbed by this terrible poison.
- they cure the sick. Wherever there is a clearer and livelier conscience of God’s presence, there is also a special care given to the excluded and marginalized persons, especially the sick. What can help the cure is that the person feels accepted and loved.
• Mark 16, 19-20: Through the community Jesus continues his mission. Jesus himself who lives in Palestine, and accepts the poor of his time, revealing the love of the Father to them, and this same Jesus continues to be alive in our midst, in our community. Through us, he wants to continue his mission to reveal the Good News of God’s love to the poor. Even up to this time the resurrection takes place. And it impels us to sing: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ, who will separate us?” No power of this world is capable to neutralize the force that comes from faith in the Resurrection (Rm 8, 35-39). A community which wants to be a witness of the Resurrection should be a sign of life, should struggle against the forces of death, in such a way that the world may be a favourable place for life, where to believe that another world is possible. Above all, in Latin America, where the life of people is in danger because of the system of death which has been imposed, the communities should be a living proof of the hope which overcomes the world, without fear of being happy!
4) Personal questions
• How do theses signs of God’s presence take place in my life?
• Today, which are the signs of the presence of Jesus in our midst that convince persons the most?
5) Concluding Prayer
I shall sing the faithful love of Yahweh for ever,
from age to age my lips shall declare your constancy,
for you have said: love is built to last for ever,
you have fixed your constancy firm in the heavens. (Ps 89,1-2)