They Went Forth and Preached Everywhere…
“They went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20). This statement is at the end of Mark’s gospel. With it we see the simple, devout, humble beginnings of the great mission to build the Church.
And what an inspiring adventure in grace and truth that journey has been and continues to be. Yes. We are the apostles and disciples of today. We are called upon to participate in the same mission. We are to do this as the disciples did, by the example of our lives and by sharing the Word of God with others just as they did. We are not called upon to impose this faith in Jesus upon others. Like him, and like his Apostles and disciples, we are to go out as sheep among wolves, bravely declaring the Good News of Jesus Christ in both word and deed. We are to offer this Good News to others and to honor their God-given freedom to choose it, or not. But if we live the Gospel humbly, openly, and joyfully, with God’s grace, others will be inspired to come to Jesus in their own free will.
The Apostles and the early disciples are to be our examples. They did not win others over to the Good News by the sword, or with threats and intimidation. They did it by actively and openly living the word with humble confidence. We are told in the Acts of the Apostles that others were drawn to them because of the way that they lived, because of the generosity of their love toward the orphans, the widows, and the aliens among them. People were drawn to the joy that they witnessed in the believers and by their obvious, simple, loving care for one another. And they were drawn by the courage they saw in these followers of Jesus. They were awed by the conviction of faith that they saw in them and wanted to be a part of that. They were inspired by the works that they saw these Christians doing in the name of Jesus and were filled with wonder at their capacity for forgiveness. And this is what we are called to do and to be in our own times, in our own little worlds today.
There is no other message in all of human history that reveals the truth more than the Good News of Jesus Christ. No human philosophies are equal to it. The best among them, for all of their wisdom, are mere reflections of the wisdom that we have been given by the Father in Jesus and through the Holy Spirit. We, too, ought to be filled with joy and with confidence in our faith so that we might be able to preach it to a world that is hungry for the truth and needy for love and the nourishing graces that come to those who believe. If we do this, if we go out into our daily lives and preach the Word of God with our words and our matching deeds and with the faith we see in these Apostles and disciples, God will “work with us too, confirming our words and our deeds with accompanying signs,” just as he did with the Apostles and disciples in the earliest days of the Church. Thanks be to God!
Lord, help us to be your good and faithful servants of your word in our daily lives. Deepen our faith and our joy in it, so that we can confidently honor this holy mission that you continue to give us in our own times. We pray in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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