FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
THE GREAT COMMISSION
Feast of St Mark, Evangelist
April 25, 2016
Today’s gospel: Mark 16:15-20
Jesus commissions the Eleven: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (v.15). This so-called Great Commission is also for us, for all who profess to be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus. All authentic disciples of Jesus are apostles, that is, “those who are sent.”
Why is this work so important and crucial? Because it is about the eternal salvation or damnation of souls. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (v.16). Jesus suffered and died on the cross to pay the price for our sins so that we will be saved. Jesus already won for us our salvation. But we need to accept what he has done and put our faith in him, and be baptized and enter into his human body on earth, the Church.
Given its absolute importance, having eternal consequences, the gospel is to be proclaimed to the whole world and to every creature. Thus it is to be rapid, massive and worldwide, to be able to reach everyone, to the very peripheries and grassroots.
Since evangelization is divine work, supposed to be done in the power of the Holy Spirit, it should manifest signs and wonders — dramatic conversions, healing, victorious assault on evil forces, reaching peoples of every nation and tongue. “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons” (v.17a). They will be given spiritual gifts with which to effectively do the work, such as healing and tongues. “They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (v.18b). And “they will speak new languages.” (v.17b).
As evangelization is an assault on the kingdom of darkness, the enemy will counter-attack, and those who do this work, especially those who do it effectively, can expect to be assaulted, oppressed and persecuted. But we need never fear, for God is with us, and Jesus has already won the victory. “They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.” (v.18a).
Jesus gave these instructions right before he ascended into heaven. “So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.” (v.19). His earthly work was done. Now it is the apostles turn, and all disciples of Jesus through the ages.
What now? We are to do what the apostles did, as commanded by Jesus. “But they went forth and preached everywhere” (v.20a). If we do so, as authentic servants and disciples, trusting in God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, then the awesome might of God will be experienced by us, as “the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.” (v.20b).
Onward to the New Evangelization!
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Note: To better understand the fullness of the Great Commission, please read my book “Renewing the Face of the Earth,” which fully explains the Great Commission as well as such important elements as spiritual gifts.
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