Gospel Reflections

Feast of the Ascension

Mark 16:15-20

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Katy Webster

Published: May 10, 2018

Read Mark 16:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:"Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe... Read More…

We come to the end of the Gospel of Mark and find ourselves at the beginning of the mission of the apostles. "Go into the entire world, proclaim the gospel to every creature." We remember that at this time they had neither a book nor a booklet. The Gospel that the disciples are sent to proclaim is the lived experience of walking, experiencing, and sharing the mission of Jesus.

The disciples had just lived a period of about 40 days between the crucifixion with all that horror and fear and the Resurrection with all wonder, doubt, hope that this provoked and this event of the Ascension of Jesus. This time the evangelists tell was an intense experience between this little group and Jesus, a time to talk, question, share food, bread and fish, touch. I imagine these days were a kind of consolidation of what they had experienced during their three years of living with Jesus. It was the last chance to learn with Jesus. It echoes the forty days Jesus spent in the desert with the temptations of the devil where he affirmed what his mission on earth was.  It echoes the forty years of the People of God in the Desert after the liberation from slavery in Egypt where the people learned to be God's people. In these days with Jesus they had experiences that helped them confirm this mission that Jesus hands over to them. Go into the entire world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature, and this is done by living the Gospel. The relationship with Jesus is now transformed. Jesus is with them, but they do not see him. Jesus is present and manifests himself in the experience of the Gospel.

The proof that the apostles were able to transmit the Good News is in the action of those who have seen and heard the message. The signs that show the people believed are in their action: casting out demons, speaking new languages, catching snakes, drinking poison without anything happening and touching the sick and the sick are healed. In the proclamation of the Gospel, in the experience of the Gospel, others are empowered to act in favor of life, in favor of freedom. 

This is not a mere accounting for the activity done: those who did well pass, and those who did not lose everything, but it is a discussion of a way to be in life, a position in life. If I am in line with the Gospel, which for me is to live the Beatitudes, I can respond to the demons, catch the snakes, drink poison, and heal the sick. The sign that the apostles are conveying the message is that the people who receive the Gospel do these actions, are facing all kinds of danger, are healing, are having an experience of life that enhances life itself, is freeing and is joyful.

On January 9, Gazimiro, a farmer who was in a group that was going to be benefited by a land where people were screwing the land, heard the plan of the gunmen to kill a person who was known as leader of this people. Suddenly these gunslingers realized he was listening to the conversation. He called him and offered him 30,000 Reais (about 10,000 US Dollars) and the guarantee of a piece of land if he would do just one little thing: Call Valdenir (target of the gunmen) and ask him to come talk to him at his house. Thus he would be in a good position to kill. Gazimiro left this conversation and went directly to Valdenir's house and told him that it was today that he was going to be killed: leave town! One of the gunmen had followed Gazimiro. Later that evening Valdenir was killed near his house, and 30 minutes later Gazimiro, too, was killed in front of his house. From the death of these two men the group that is fighting for this land has united more, and continues to face threats from the gunmen and temptations to abandon the struggle for the land. They have a right to this land, but the force of the land grabbers sometimes seems to dominate.

Where does the strength and courage come from to defend life to its ultimate consequences? Is not this the proclamation of the Gospel? Is not this the continuation of Jesus' mission?


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