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Preaching the gospel to the whole world

The feast of St. Mark, the Evangelist, on April 25, reminds us that we have the duty to preach the Good News about Christ to the whole world. Christ said it very clearly: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mk 16,15-16)

And that mandate was accompanied by some privileges and benefits: “In my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mk 16,17-18)

We should take this mandate from Christ seriously and do whatever we can to carry it out. We have to realize that preaching the living Word of God is a task entrusted to his apostles and shared by all of us in different ways. The clergy, of course, takes a leading role in this affair, but this task is incumbent on everyone. It’s a serious business that involves our whole being, and not just our talents and powers.

First, we need to examine our understanding and attitude toward God’s word, especially the Gospel. On this basic understanding would depend what we do with the Gospel and how we handle it.

Do we really know the true nature of the Gospel? Or do we take it as just one more book, perhaps with certain importance, but definitely not as the living word of God, in spite of its human dimensions?

The Gospel is actually the proclamation of Christ as the Emmanuel, that is, God with us. This is an on-going affair that did not stop with the death of Christ. Christ lives with us up to now, and continues to do things with us.

All these affirmations are captured in the last lines of the Gospel of St. Matthew where our Lord said:

“Go, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them…. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (28,19-20)

Our Catechism tells us that “We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and his mysteries and often to beg him to perfect and realize them in us and in his whole Church” (521)

Obviously, to carry out this mission, we need to know our Lord and his teachings. We have to go to him and read the Gospel. Reading and meditating on it should be a regular practice for us, a habit meant to keep us in touch with him.

Thus, every time we read the Gospel, we have to understand by our faith that we are engaging with our Lord in an actual and living way. We are listening to him, and somehow seeing him. We can use our imagination to make ourselves as one more character in any scene depicted by the Gospel.

For this, we need to look for the appropriate time and place. We have to be wary of our tendency to be dominated by a lifestyle of activism and pragmatism that would blunt our need for recollection and immersion in the life of Christ.

The drama of Christ’s life here on earth has to continue in our own life. Thus, we need to continually conform our mind and heart to the Gospel, an affair that demands everything from us.*

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