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Would We Believe It?

April 6, 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013, Saturday within the Octave of Easter

Acts 4:13-21.  It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.

Mark 16:9-15Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.

Gospel Reflection:

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

If Jesus appeared to us today, would we believe it?  If he spoke to us today, would we believe it?  Would we recognize him?  Or would we just be like the rest of the world around us?  Disbelieving, and demanding proof.  Yesterday, we heard Peter concede – and I imagine with a shrug – saying, ‘I’m going fishing,’ meaning ‘I’m going back to the way it was; business as usual.’  And we, too, fall back ands go with what we know.

Mark’s account at the end of his Gospel asks the same question – would we believe it?  First, the Madeleine comes and tells the apostles He is Risen, and ‘they did not believe.’  Then, in another account, he appears to two ‘on their way to the country’ – which would be Cleopas and another on the road to Emmaus, which was recounted on Easter Wednesday.  ‘But they didn’t believe them either.’  Lastly, Jesus appeared to the Eleven, and rebuked them for their ‘hardness of heart’ – we have heard that rebuke before: from Moses to the Israelites.  Then, abruptly, they – we – are given our marching orders: ‘Go into the whole world, and proclaim the Gospel.’  First, another, and lastly – prōton, hetera, and hysteron.  They – we – hear the same reports over and over.  And still we scoff.  It is a fantastic tale.  Will we believe it?

Mary was told, ‘[s]top holding on to me’ (Jn 20:17), clinging to ideas she was comfortable with and understood.  The two disciples walking, tried to comprehend what had happened, clinging to their sadness and disappointment, until ‘he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread’ (Lk 24:35), and they could ‘see’ with their hearts.

But it is not a tale.  We know, it is the Word of God, divinely inspired, written, and presented in the words of men.  But more than that, it is about faith.  This short account, typical of Mark, goes straight to the issue.  It is about faith.  If this was easy to believe, if this was about a great guy, with a gift for speaking like an Old Testament prophet, who performed some healing miracles by the Grace of God, but then died a horrible death, we would be saying, ‘Oh, wasn’t Jesus a great guy… too bad what happened though.’  But no.  It is a hard to believe account about Jesus, a poor carpenter, the only Son of God, cruelly put to death, but anastas! – having risen from the dead, for the salvation of all.  It is so fantastic, so hard to believe, that to remain a faithful telling year after year for near 2000 years later – it has to be true.

early Christians called themselves simply “the living” – Pope Benedict XVI

Yesterday I was reading from Benedict XVI. ““Because I live, you will live also”, says Jesus to his disciples at the Last Supper (Jn 14:19), and he thereby reveals once again that a distinguishing feature of the disciple of Jesus is the fact that he “lives”: beyond the mere fact of existing [underscored by me for emphasis!], he had found and embraced the real life that everyone is seeking. On the basis of such texts, the early Christians called themselves simply “the living” (hoi zōntes). They had found what all are seeking – life itself, full, and, hence, indestructible life.” – (Pope Benedict XVI, 2011, p. 83).  The living.  That is remarkable.

And so, it is a mystery.  Such a mystery, that the best route to understanding it is to have faith, and live.  And it is that faith that continues to proclaim itself to the whole world – until he comes again.  Amen.

 

[Pope Benedict XVI. (2011). Jesus of Nazareth. Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.]

 

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