During this Octave of Easter, the Church continues to proclaim the Resurrection of Jesus. We listen each day of this Octave to the various scripture accounts of how Jesus rose from the dead, appeared to his disciples, and prepared them for the work of proclaiming Him to the nations.
In today’s Gospel from Mark, we hear how Jesus took his disciples to task for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they did not believe those who saw him after he had been raised. (see Mark 16:9-15)
Obviously, at some point, through the appearances of the Risen Lord, and by the grace and strengthening of the Holy Spirit, these disciples and early believers became quite convinced in the resurrection, and extremely successful in proclaiming Jesus to the world.
Listen to the words of St. Peter as he and St. John were taken before the high priest and other elders of the Jews for healing a cripple: “He [Jesus] is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone,’ (Psalm 118) There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12)
These appearances of the Risen Jesus were important for nourishing the faith of His disciples that He is truly risen. It is no different for us. We have this Easter Season every year to renew our own faith in the very same Risen Lord. Now that this Easter Octave is nearing a conclusion, hopefully we have been renewed in our faith that Jesus rose from the dead.
Now that we have been nourished and strengthened, fed by the Risen One (see John 21:1-14) we are to proclaim Him to others. This is the work of the New Evangelization, to effectively proclaim Jesus Christ in today’s world. The work of the early Church and early believers is now ours.
In his first epistle, St. Peter instructs us: “You are not to spend what remains of yoru earthly life on human desires but on the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2) How is God calling each of us, in our unique state of life to proclaim Jesus to those around us? How often do we share our faith in Jesus with another person, with members of our family? How well can and do we apply our faith to our daily life?
Be strong in faith. Be bold in proclaiming Christ to the world. And, as St. Francis once said, if necessary, use words. In other words, our ‘way of life’ is perhaps our most powerful faith statement.
Just as Jesus called disciples by name and ministered to others on a personal basis, so, too, the New Evangelization is calling ‘you’ by name. We cannot leave this work to others. Jesus is calling. What is your response?