Today, as we approach the end of the Easter Octave, our eight-day celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection, we find in it the perfect sign of hope. The Resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love. Really, could God provide us with any better guarantee of what He has in store for us?
What I have done for My Son, I will do also for you. As My Son is now with me in glory, so too will you come and dwell with us in eternal happiness. You need only do what the Son asks of you: “Repent and believe in the Gospel” [Mk 1:15].
These words – “Repent and believe in the Gospel” – are among the first words of Jesus we encounter in Mark’s Gospel. As a writer, Mark didn’t elaborate a lot, but just gave us the bare-bones facts. Indeed, he begins his Gospel with another matter-of-fact statement: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” [Mk 1:1]
No theological subtleties there. No, Mark gets right to the point of it all: Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, and the Son of God. It’s as if Mark is telling his reader: Just keep that in mind as you read this Gospel and all will become clear.
The passage from today’s Gospel reading is no different and includes some of the final verses of Mark’s Gospel. The last verse of this passage is equally straightforward, with the risen Jesus telling His small band of eleven apostles: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” [Mk 16:15]. No exclusions, no dispensations, no excuses. You and all those who follow you – and, that, brothers and sisters, includes you and me – must proclaim the Gospel always and to everyone.
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But, wasting no time, Jesus continued and gave them that final command, His great commission to proclaim the Gospel to all the world. Matthew, in his Gospel, adds a bit more: “Go therefore,” Jesus commands, “and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” [Mt 28:19-20]
But regardless of the version, it’s kind of a scary command, isn’t it? After all, how much Gospel proclaiming have you and I done this week…this month…this year? I suspect it was scary too for the disciples who actually heard Jesus say it. If His Resurrection were unexpected, then this command was even more so.
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And so, if you’re a little behind in your Gospel proclaiming, recall again those first words of Jesus: “Repent and believe in the Gospel” -- for they are the key. Immerse yourself in the sacrament of Reconciliation; in repentance let the Holy Spirit shower you with His grace. Open yourself up to Him in prayer. Ask Him to guide you, to help you proclaim the Gospel by living the Gospel, so you, too, will be a witness to the Good News of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.