I like how today’s Gospel from Mark 16:9-15 ties into today’s first reading from Acts 4:13-21. In the Gospel, Mary Magdalene tells the disciples that Jesus appeared to her. They did not believe her. It then talks about the two disciples that saw Jesus on the road to Emmaus. They did not believe them. But then Jesus appears to the non-believing disciples and he 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.”
In Acts, the disciples are following what Jesus told them to proclaim the Gospel. The leaders, elders and scribes were amazed at their proclamation plus the crippled man that they healed was with them. Instead of believing, the leaders, elders and scribes threaten them not to preach in the name of Jesus. I was reflecting that I have been on both sides. There was a time in my life that I did not want to have anything to do with God. Of course I now see that as pure ignorance just like the leaders, elders and scribes. There was also a time when I was so exuberant in my proclamation for Jesus that I probably drove people away rather than closer to the Lord. In this case, I just have to trust that God used my enthusiasm in a productive way.
What always brings me back to proclaiming the Gospel is the commandment to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. That agape love always wins out by proclaiming in deed and not always with words. I am a sinner. The plank in my eye is much larger than the splinter in yours. How can I not love you regardless of your sins? I know I have a responsibility to live and to share the truth but it must always be with love, the same kind of merciful love that I ask our Heavenly Father in the prayer that Jesus taught us. Our Father… and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us… Amen.