Divina Lectio: St. Mark, Evangelist - Mk 16:15-20
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 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.
• Today’s Gospel forms part of the appendix of the Gospel of Mark (Mk 16:9-20) which presents a 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), nor the two disciples on the road out in the country (Mk 16:13). Several times, Mark refers to the resistance of the disciples to 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 doubt 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 their 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 speak new languages, they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed if they drink deadly poison, and they will lay their hands on the sick who will recover. This happens even today. To cast out devils is to fight against the force of evil which destroys life. The life of many people 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 languages: it means to begin to communicate with others in a new way. Sometimes we meet a person whom we have never seen before, and we care deeply for them and their situation, even though we don't know them well. 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 in community. There is gossip which destroys the relationship between persons. The one who lives in the presence of God does not participate in these things and is able to not be disturbed by this terrible poison.
- they cure the sick. Wherever there is a clear and lively knowledge of God’s presence, there is also a special care given to the excluded and marginalized, especially the sick. What can help 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, 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 of neutralizing 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 and should struggle against the forces of death in such a way that the world may be a favorable place for life. Above all, in parts of the world such as Latin America and the Middle East, where the life of people is in danger because of the system of death which has become common there, 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?
• What are the signs of the presence of Jesus in our midst that convince people the most today?
• Do I proclaim the Gospel through my words and actions every day, or just sometimes?
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)