FR. MIKE’S HOMILY FOR SATURDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF EASTER
THEME: PREACH THE GOSPEL
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
HOMILY: Mk 16:9‐15
When he 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.
It is never easy to believe the news about the resurrection. The disciples have witnessed the raising of the daughter of Jairus and Lazarus. But the case of Jesus is one of a kind, for, in fact, it is not just resuscitation, or bringing back to life, but resurrection. The glorified body of the Risen Lord is the same physical body but totally different. It is not anymore limited by time and space. This is one of a kind, and has no precedence.
But that is the concrete and undeniable truth: The Lord is truly risen! Believe that, and cast out all doubts about it, He urged them. So, when they persisted in their unbelief despite the testimonies of those who have seen Him, He had to reproach them.
After the reproach, however, was the command to go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. So, this is the reason why the Lord insists that they believe totally and unconditionally the fact of His resurrection. In order to preach credibly and effectively, their faith must be firm and unyielding.
Let me quote an excerpt from the reflection written by Fr. George Boronat:
“The French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray once told a story which he had heard from an Orthodox priest. After the Passover, as Jesus ascended into Heaven, He gazed down on earth and saw it in darkness, except for a few tiny lights in Jerusalem. On His way to Heaven He met the Angel Gabriel, who was accustomed to undertaking earthly missions. The Angel asked Him, ‘What are those little lights?’ ‘They are the Apostles that surround my Mother,’ Jesus answered him. ‘This is my plan: once I return to Heaven, I will send them the Holy Spirit so that these small lights can turn into a great bonfire that will ignite the world with charity.’ The Angel dared to ask, ‘And if this plan does not work?’ After a momentʹs silence, Jesus answered, ‘I do not have any other plan!’ʺ (iPray with the Gospel).
In other words, Jesus expects so much from His followers to spread the Good News so that more and more people will come to faith and salvation. The Apostle John had this in mind all along. “But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name” (Jn 20:31).
We are living now in an age of unbelief. Many spiritual writers have referred to this as neo-paganism. In many parts of the world, churches are more for tourists than worshippers. There are now more and more people who believe in superstitions, feng shui and other occult and pagan practices. There is even an upsurge in the number of freemasons, atheists, agnostics and the like. This scenario must have been in the mind of Jesus when He predicted, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8).
Pope Benedict XVI rightly observed, “The crisis we are living through, carries with it signs of the exclusion of God from people’s lives, a general indifference to the Christian faith, and even the intention of marginalizing it from public life.”
As Christians, then, we have to seriously face the challenge of the New Evangelization. Again, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Our faith is well founded; but it is necessary that this faith become part of our lives. A great effort must, therefore, be made in order for all Christians to transform themselves into ‘witnesses,’ ready and able to shoulder the commitment of testifying – always and to everyone – to the hope that animates them.”(Address to 4th Italian Ecclesial Conference, Verona, Italy, October 19, 2006).
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches