1) Opening prayer
Our God and Father,
Your Son Jesus lived among us,
flesh of our flesh, blood of our blood.
He died for our sake
and You raised Him back to life.
May we experience His love and His presence
to such an extent
that we can never stop proclaiming
what we have seen and heard,
and that people may give glory to You, our God.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 16:9-15
When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either. But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
• Today’s Gospel is part of a broader literary unit (Mk 16:9-20) which presents a list or summary of diverse apparitions of Jesus: (a) Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, but the disciples do not accept her testimony (Mk 16:9-11); (b) Jesus appears to the disciples, but the others do not accept their testimony (Mk 16:12-13); (c) Jesus appears to the eleven; He criticizes their lack of faith and orders them to announce the Good News to all (Mk 16:14-18); (d) Jesus ascends to heaven and continues to cooperate with the disciples (Mk 16:19-20).
• Besides this list of apparitions in the Gospel of Mark, there are other lists of apparitions which do not always coincide among themselves. For example, the list kept by Paul in the Letter to the Corinthians is very different (1 Cor 15:3-8). This variety shows that at the beginning the Christians were not concerned with proving the Resurrection by means of the apparitions. For them faith in the Resurrection was so evident and alive that there was no need to prove it. A person sunbathing on the shore is not concerned with showing that the sun exists, because she herself, sun burnt, is the evidence of the existence of the sun. The communities, existing in the midst of the immense Empire, were a living proof of the Resurrection. The list of the apparitions began to appear later, in the second generation, in order to refute the criticism of opponents.
• Mark 16:9-11: Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, but the other disciples do not believe her. Jesus first appears to Mary Magdalene. She goes to announce this to the others. To come into the world, God wanted to depend on the womb of a young girl 15 or 16 years old, called Mary of Nazareth (Lk 1:38). To be recognized alive in our midst, He wants to depend on the announcement of a woman who had been liberated from seven devils, also called Mary, of Magdala! (This is why she was called Mary Magdalene). But the others did not believe her. Mark says that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene. In the list of apparitions, recorded in the letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 15:3-8), the apparitions of Jesus to the women are not mentioned. The first Christians had difficulty believing in the testimony of women. It is shameful!
• Mark 16:12-13: Jesus appears to the disciples, but the others do not believe them. Without too many details, Mark refers to an apparition of Jesus to two disciples, “while they were on their way into the country.” This is perhaps a reference to the apparition of Jesus to the disciples at Emmaus, narrated by Luke (Lk 24:13-35). Mark insists on saying that “the others did not believe them either”.
• Mark 16:14-15: Jesus criticizes the unbelief and orders them to announce the Good News to all creatures. For this reason, Jesus appears to the eleven and reproaches them because they did not believe the people who had seen Him in His resurrected body. Once again, Mark refers to the resistance of the disciples in refusing to believe the testimony of those who have experienced the Resurrection of Jesus. Why? Probably to teach three things: in the first place, that faith in Jesus passes through the faith in the people who give witness; in the second place, that nobody should be discouraged when doubt or unbelief arises in the heart; in the third place, to refute the claim of those who said that the Christian is naïve and accepts any news uncritically, because the eleven had great difficulty accepting the truth of the Resurrection!
• Today’s Gospel ends with the sending forth: “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Gospel to all creation!” Jesus confers upon them the mission to announce the Good News to all creatures.
4) Personal questions
• Which of these: Mary Magdalene, the two disciples of Emmaus, or the eleven disciples, had the greatest difficulty believing in the Resurrection? Why? With whom do I identify?
• What can convince people of the presence of Jesus in our midst?
5) Concluding Prayer
May God show kindness and bless us,
and make His face shine on us.
Then the earth will acknowledge Your ways,
and all nations Your power to save. (Ps 67:1-2)