“Proclaim the Gospel.”

Marking the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul we read from the very end of Mark’s gospel (Mk 16:15-18).  Jesus appears to the remaining eleven apostles immediately before His Ascension to tell them to preach the gospel everywhere and baptize as they go.  Those who believe in the gospel and are baptized will be saved.  Then Jesus tells of signs (e.g., speaking new languages, handling poisonous snakes without harm, healing the sick) that will accompany true believers.  “Gospel” means “good news” (this is explicit in some other translations).  Why wouldn’t we want to spread good news?  When we find out some wonderful thing that has happened to us or to a friend or loved one, we can’t contain our excitement and want others to know immediately.  Sometimes we wish we could tell the whole world, like when a child is born, an engagement is announced, a daughter graduates college, a disease is overcome, or a major surgery is a complete success.  Such things are wonderful, but transitory.  How much more eager should we be to tell everyone of a happiness that is eternal and beyond anyone’s conception?   That it doesn’t end with the completion of this earthly life, as good or bad as it has been.  That there is hope for all of us if we believe the gospel (that is, to live by its precepts).  This commission of Jesus’ was not only for those first eleven, but it is meant for all of us who would legitimately call ourselves followers of the Lord.  Let us never miss an opportunity to have a hand in God’s work by living the gospel message and by “always be[ing] ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 Pt 3:15).

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