In today’s gospel account, chosen because of the feast of St Paul’s conversion, we read:
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15).
The Eleven, and Paul who would encounter Jesus after his Resurrection (cf. Acts 9:1-9), are commissioned with carrying the Gospel to the whole world. What did they preach? How are we do follow in their footsteps?
The earliest kerygmas, Greek for to preach, and in this case to preach the Gospel, were very simple but effective mnemonic devices. Each disciple was taught what was needed to be covered in sharing the Good News. One such “blueprint” was the symbol of the fish. In Greek, fish is written as ichthus. Each of the characters of ichthus represented the keywords that needed to be covered as follows:
Iesous – Jesus Christos – Messiah or Anointed One Theos – God Hyios – Son Soter – Savior.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God our Savior.
The dynamic truth of these five words is profoundly transformative if we truly believe them. What we need to ask ourselves is, do we believe this statement to be true? If we do, how can we stop ourselves from smiling, from dancing, from sharing that Jesus is truly who he said he is!
Jesus is fully God and fully man and he became one of us so that we can become one with him. Through the Son of God’s Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, we are called, as were the first disciples, to share in the divinity of Jesus. We become deified, meaning we become God through our participation in the life of Jesus. The foundation of our faith has to do with our encounter with Jesus the Christ.
This encounter is personal for each of us. No one can save another. We can only propose, invite, and present the Good News that Jesus Christ is the Son of God our Savior, and share our own experiences of this reality. Our encounter with Jesus does not need to be as brilliant as happened with Paul. More often, Jesus invites us in more quiet and subtle ways. We are to share the Gospel with joy and accompany each other on our journey by providing support, encouragement, and guidance, and let God be who he is and work through us as he will.
The Apostles and Paul, Mary the Mother of God, Mary Magdalene and the many who have continued to answer yes to his invitation through the ages up until this day were willing to be shaped, conformed and sent on mission. Each of us, have a part to play in salvation history, and so are invited to have our own unique experience of Jesus. As Bishop Robert Barron says often, “Our faith will grow as we give it away.” We too are called. When we say yes to Jesus, we too will be shaped, conformed, and sent on mission to proclaim the Gospel, to give our faith away!
Picture: The mosaic of Jesus Christ the Pantocrator, Ruler of the Universe, at Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul, Turkey.