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Gospel for Sunday, May 12: Mark 16:15-20

Feast of the Ascension

15 And (Jesus) said to them, ”Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 These will be the signs that will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any poison, it will not harm them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed. “19 The Lord Jesus, after speaking with them, was lifted up into heaven and seated at the right hand of God. 20 Then they departed and preached everywhere, while the Lord acted together with them and confirmed the Word with the signs that accompanied it.”

Mk 16:15-20

Care sorelle e fratelli della Misericordie, sono Carlo Miglietta, medico, biblista, laico, marito, padre e nonno ( Anche oggi condivido con voi un breve pensiero di meditazione sul Vangelo, con speciale riferimento al tema della misericordia.

The intent of the feast of the Ascension is to present the end of Jesus’ physical presence in our world: and Mark expresses this according to his geocentric conception of the cosmos and with Semitic literary genre: Jesus enters “into heaven,” “on high” (Mark 16:19).


Jesus leaves his own a clear command: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15).

Already during his lifetime Jesus had sent his own before him (Lk 10:1) to preach the gospel and to heal (Lk 9:1). The disciples are the laborers sent by the master to his harvest (Mt 9:38; Jn 4:38), the servants sent by the king to lead the guests to the Son’s wedding (Mt 22:3). The mission of the disciples is connected with that of the Son: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20:21); “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Jn 13:20); “It is not you who have chosen me, but I who have chosen you and constituted you that you may go and bear fruit” (Jn 15:16).

With the time of Jesus over, the time of the Church begins. Luke’s missionary project expresses the gradual expansion of the Gospel: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Acts is not so much the story of the Church but of the progression of the Word, which all people of all cultures can embrace (think of the miracle of tongues on the day of Pentecost: Acts 2:7-12).

The experience of the Risen One is not something personal, intimate: it is joy to overflow to others, it is enthusiasm that becomes contagious. The apostles immediately become “witnesses of his resurrection” (Lk 24:35-48; Acts 1:22; 4:33). The great proclamation of Peter and all the Apostles is precisely that “you killed the author of life, but God raised him up, and of this we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14-15.26; cf. 2:22-36; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40-41; 17:18…): with this task they are sent to all nations, because Christ is Savior “of all the world” (1 John 2:1-5)!

The first, true, irreplaceable task of the Christian is the transmission of the faith. This is why the Church “is by its very nature missionary” (Ad gentes, no. 2). We must all make ourselves apostles of the Gospel we have received. We need to rediscover the prophetic charism that comes from our baptism (Lumen gentium, no. 35; Ad gentes, no. 15): by now the Church is the whole people of prophets that was foretold by Joel for the end times (Joel 3:1-5; Acts 2:15-21).

Today we too are called by Jesus to be witnesses of his resurrection: we all have this vocation, priests, sisters and lay people. Paul’s admonition applies to all: “It is a duty for me to preach the gospel: woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16); we are all to proclaim the Word “on every occasion, opportune and untimely” (2 Tim. 4:2); “We cannot be silent!” (Acts 4:20); we “have been granted the grace to proclaim to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8). And if priests and consecrated men and women do so “institutionally,” to the laity the Council says: “Every lay person must be a witness to the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus and a sign of the living God before the world” (LG 38); “The laity are especially called to make the Church present and active in those places and circumstances where she cannot become salt of the earth except through them… It therefore falls upon all the laity the glorious burden of working so that the divine plan of salvation may reach more and more every day to all men of all times and of the whole earth. Let every way therefore be open to them (ed. note: !!!) so that… they too may actively participate in the saving work of the Church” (LG 33); ”Christ… fulfills his prophetic office… also through the laity, who therefore constitute his witnesses and provide for the sense of faith and the grace of the word (cf. Acts 2:17-18; Rev 19:10)… In this office appears of great value that state of life which is sanctified by a special sacrament, namely, married to family life. There one has the exercise and an excellent school of the apostolate of the laity…. The Christian family loudly proclaims and the present virtues of the Kingdom of God and the hope of the blessed life… The laity therefore, even when occupied in temporal cares, can and should exercise a valuable action for the evangelization of the world….; it is necessary that all should cooperate in the dilation and increase of the Kingdom of Christ in the world” (LG 35).

What about those who do not receive the proclamation of the Gospel, or receive it in a distorted or unbelievable way? Perhaps they are damned? Sometimes some theologians have answered yes, quoting Jesus’ very phrase, “He who will believe and be baptized will be saved. Whoever will not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). However, since the theory of predestination to damnation by God has been repeatedly condemned in Catholicism, the phrase in Mark 16:16 should be understood as follows: whoever, having reliably received the Gospel proclamation and, seeing that he must believe, will believe and be baptized, will be saved; whoever does not believe, will be condemned.


Believers are called to evangelize by placing concrete signs of Jesus’ Resurrection in the world: the fight against evil, injustice, poverty in all its forms (“casting out demons”), creating a new brotherhood and universal solidarity (“speaking new languages”), healing diseases (“they will lay their hands on the sick and they will be healed.” Mark 16:17), confident that the Lord will always sustain them with his divine power (“they will take up serpents in their hands, and if they drink any poison, it will not harm them”: Mark 16:17-18).

“For the Christian then, especially as he celebrates the Easter of his Lord, there is no room for escapism, evasion or spiritualism, but the need to live the resurrection in existence, in the today of history, making the Easter faith become manifest and effective already now and here. Yes, believers must show that life is stronger than death, and they must do so in building communities in which the “we” takes charge of each person and the “I” renounces prevarication, in forgiving without asking for reciprocation, in the deep joy that abides even in situations of suffering and persecution, in compassion for every creature, especially the least and the suffering, in justice that leads to working liberation from the situations of death in which so many human beings lie, in accepting to spend one’s life for others, in giving one’s life freely and out of love, even to the point of praying for the murderers themselves, as so many witnesses have done, still in our days” (E. Bianchi).


The Ascension is a feast that always leaves us a little bitter, because we envy those who were able to meet the historical Jesus, and we too remain, with our noses turned up, “gazing at the sky” (Acts 1:11), full of longing and with a sense of loneliness. Yet Jesus, as he left, told us, “Behold, I am with you all days, until the end of the world” (Mt 28:20). The celebration of the Lord’s Ascension should then be an opportunity to meditate on the many ways in which Christ is still present among us today.

The Church

Today’s Gospel (Mk 16:15-20) presents us with the Church as the place now of Christ’s presence through the witness of the disciples.

The Church is the first sacrament, that is, a sign of Christ. “The Church is nothing but the result of the mission of the Son in the Holy Spirit. It is the space around the Word of God made flesh, Jesus Christ: space in which the Father is narrated, in which it is explained by the lives of believers and sacramentally that the living God is the Father of Jesus Christ, the Lord” (E. Bianchi).

The first great presence is in the sacraments of his Church, “because in them Christ himself acts” (Catechism Catholic Church, no. 1127); above all, Jesus is present in the Eucharist, when we eat his Body and drink his Blood.

The Bible

If the Eucharistic Presence is important, so is the Presence in the Word. Says Jerome, “We eat the flesh and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, but also in the reading of the Scriptures…. I hold the Gospel to be the body of Christ”; and Ignatius of Antioch: ‘We are to approach Scripture as the flesh of Christ’; and Cesarius of Arles: ‘He who listens carelessly will be as guilty as he who has negligently dropped the Body of the Lord on the ground.’

The poor

The Gospel then affirms that the Lord identifies with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned: “As often as you did these things to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Mt 25:31-46). To Saul who goes to persecute Christians in Damascus, Jesus says, “Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4), personally identifying with the oppressed. Said Clement of Alexandria (150-215), “If anyone appears to you poor or ragged or ugly or sick…, do not draw back…; within this body dwell in secret the Father and his Son, who died for us and rose with us.” When the great French philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was on the verge of death,” Sister Gilberte tells us in ‘Life of Pascal,’ ”since he could not take communion, he asked that a poor man be brought before him, to worship Christ himself in him. The poor “for Christians are the sacramental sign of Jesus, the Servant of the Lord who stripped himself of his divine dignity to the point of being a slave” (E. Bianchi). Therefore, it is the poor who are the living sacrament of Christ: it is in the poor that one encounters Jesus on the roads of life.

Pope Francis said, “We must become courageous Christians and go after those who are precisely the flesh of Christ, those who are the flesh of Christ…! This is the problem: the flesh of Christ, touching the flesh of Christ, taking upon ourselves this pain for the poor… A poor Church for the poor begins with going to the flesh of Christ.”

So, “I want to see Jesus in the brother and sister next to me, but even more I want to see Jesus in that situation that all voices say is far from God. Because the only one who was able to discover Jesus’ passage in that city was a prostitute. Because the one who met Jesus at his home was a leader of the publicans, Zacchaeus, leader of the loan sharks and starvers of his people. Because the last one who was able to pray for mercy was a thieving scoundrel. Because the first one to recognize the Son of God in that Jesus who died as a wretch was the head-boyan of the crucifixion, the centurion, an unbeliever, one outside God’s people, an irregular. And so I want with them to see Jesus there” (Caristo Community).

Buona Misericordia a tutti!

Chi volesse leggere un’esegesi più completa del testo, o qualche approfondimento, me lo chieda a .


Spazio Spadoni

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