Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). Jesus is once again claiming who he is: Kyrios – Lord. The word, gospel, comes from the Greek word, euangelion, meaning good news, but the one who proclaimed “good news” during the time of Jesus was the emperor. Caesar would send his emissaries to announce such good news as a great victory or his birthday. What Mark conveys in the very first line and here at the ending of his Gospel, is that Jesus is Lord! Not Kaiser Kyrios, Caesar is Lord, but Jesus Kyrios, Jesus is Lord!!!
This is true for us as well. Whenever we are dismissed from Mass, one of the dismissal lines I use most often is, “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” This is to echo the command of Jesus for all of us to proclaim the Gospel in our everyday experiences and encounters.
We are able to proclaim the Gospel first and foremost by believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and Lord. He has risen! He has risen indeed! He is the firstborn of the new creation. This is something to get excited about, something to fill us with joy. We are an Alleluia People, not a Grumpy Gus people. Once we remind ourselves what we believe, who we believe in, and whose we belong to, then we are better prepared to engage with others.
The most powerful witness we can offer is when we seek opportunities to act, speak about and engage others with respect, caring, and joy. When we catch the eye of another offer a smile. We can also say hello, a nod of our head, or offer a wave. Unfortunately, we still need to be careful with the simple engagement of a handshake, a fist bump, a high five, or a hug as we come out of this pandemic. We also need to be aware of other’s boundaries and respect their space at the same time. If someone is not open, we need to respect their posture, and meet them where they are.
We reach out to others to acknowledge their dignity and value. This is the simplest, yet most profound way to spread the Gospel, which really means to share the love of Jesus, willing their good. We are to accept and accompany others as Jesus does with the purpose of building relationships. We are more inviting when we are willing to be patient, gracious, and willing to listen and hear in our interactions with each person we meet and in doing so we may begin to understand each other a little better.
As we encounter others, we are to also remember the common courtesy of saying please, thank you, and I forgive you, whether in a store, restaurant, bank, convenience store, on the sidewalk, in traffic, or online. Remember God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason because it is better to listen first and speak second.
Especially now, with the world on edge and anxious more than ever, believing in Jesus, embracing his love and message, and putting into practice small actions with great love is a wonderful way to begin to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). I might add, “every creature” is in this statement. All of the above applies to creation as well. We need to be better stewards and caretakers of our planet as well as each other.
With my brother deacons in 2016, photo credit: Giovanna Christian