Octave of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 4:13-21
Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, the leaders, elders, and scribes were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus. Then when they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them, they could say nothing in reply. So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, and conferred with one another, saying, “What are we to do with these men? Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign was done through them, and we cannot deny it. But so that it may not be spread any further among the people, let us give them a stern warning never again to speak to anyone in this name.” So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them further, they released them, finding no way to punish them, on account of the people who were all praising God for what had happened.
Gospel: Mk 16:9-15
When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either. But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
STAND FIRM IN FAITH: Jesus appears three times in today’s Gospel: to Mary, to two friends; then to the eleven. In the first instance, Mary runs back in joy and informs the apostles. In the second instance, the two are also joyful and run back to inform the apostles. In the third instance, Jesus rebukes the disciples for their unbelief and hardness of heart. Even after hearing the different testimonies, they are not quick to believe. He grants them peace and commissions them to go out and proclaim the Good News to all. Many times we fail to believe even after God revealing Himself to us many times in our day to day lives. Jesus is challenging us today to be people of faith. For us to build our faith, let us listen to God’s Word and to those whom He has sent. Faith is a gift from God, and we can only get it from the Good News.
Prayer: Lord, preserve my faith.
IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO SPEAK: Jesus gave a mandate to his disciples to “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” The proclaimers of this Gospel will always meet with resistance from those who feel threatened in their power and unjust systems. The missionaries may be ordinary and uneducated people but their credentials consist in their being sent by the Master who is the truth and the way to a meaningful life. This gives them the certainty that they can never be shaken. They find it impossible not to speak about what they have seen and experienced in their life. Everyone should come to know that the Spirit of the living Lord brings transformation.
GO INTO THE WHOLE WORLD: The great commissioning of Jesus is universal in its scope and target. It also implies the inclusion of the whole of creation in the reign of God: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” As St Paul tells us: “For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God… (Rom 8:19-23). What this implies is that the Good News is not just an abstract ideology. It is an embodied experience that involves all that exists. The experience of the Risen Christ as the embodied Lord of creation who is alive gives us the hope of integration of our spirits and bodies, and the redemption of the whole of creation. We need to be optimistic about the physical world and about our body as we await the full revelation of Christ.