Lectio Divina: Conversion of Saint Paul
1) Opening prayer
Father of heaven and earth,
hear our prayers,
and show us the way to Your peace in the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - 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."
• The signs which accompany the proclamation or announcement of the Good News. Jesus appears to the eleven disciples and reproaches them because they had not believed the people who had seen Him risen. Once again, Mark refers to the resistance of the disciples to believe in the witness of those men and women who had had an experience of the resurrection of Jesus. Why would this be? Probably to teach two things. In the first place, that faith in Jesus goes through the faith of people who give witness. Second, that nobody should get discouraged when incredulity comes from the heart. Even the eleven disciples had doubts!
• Then Jesus gives them the mission of announcing the Good News to all creatures. The requirement which He gives is the following: to believe and to be baptized. To those who have the courage to believe in the Good News and who are baptized, He promises the followings signs: 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, and they will lay their hands on the sick who will recover. This happens even in our own day.
- To cast out devils is to fight against the force of evil which destroys life. The life of many people has improved for having entered a community and for having begun to live the Good News of the presence of God in their life.
- To have the gift of tongues is to begin to communicate with others in a new form. Sometimes, we find a person whom we never have seen before, but it seems to us that we have known her for a long time. This happens because we speak the same language, the language of love.
- They will be unharmed if they take deadly poison: there are many things which poison living together, e.g. gossip, which destroys the relationship between people. The one who lives in the presence of God goes beyond this and succeeds in not being bothered by this terrible poison.
- To cure the sick: wherever there is a clearer consciousness of the presence of God, there is also a special attention toward oppressed and marginalized people, especially the sick What helps the person to heal is to feel accepted and loved.
- Through the community, Jesus continues His mission: Jesus himself, who lived in Palestine where He accepted the poor of His time, revealed the love of the Father, this same Jesus continues alive in our midst, in the same way in our communities. Through us He continues His mission, revealing the Good News of the Love of God for the poor. Even today, the Resurrection takes place which urges us to sing, “Who will separate us, who will separate us from the love of Christ, who will separate us?” (cf. Rm 8: 38-39). No power of this world can counteract the force which comes from faith in the Resurrection (Rm 8: 35-39). A community which wants to witness to the Resurrection has to be a sign of life, should fight against the forces of death in a way that the world will be a favorable place for life, and should believe that a different world is possible. Above all in Latin America, where the life of the people is in danger because of the system of death which has been imposed, the communities have to be a living proof of the hope which overcomes the world without the fear of being happy!
4) Personal questions
• To cast out devils, to have the gift of new tongues, to be unharmed by deadly poison and by snakes, to impose the hands on the sick: Have you fulfilled any of these signs?
• Does Jesus continue His mission through us and through our community? Is He able to fulfill this mission in our community? In what way?
5) Concluding prayer
Praise Yahweh, all nations,
extol Him, all peoples,
for His faithful love is strong
and His constancy never-ending. (Ps 117:1-2)