Scripture:Jesus said to the eleven, “Go into all the world and proclaim the goodness to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)
Reflection: Mark’s gospel will have three endings forever. The original ending is 16:8. However, at some point in transmission, another author added two additional sentences to 16:8, which are called the shorter ending of Mark. This shorter ending is a commission. It was added, most likely, to soften the original ending of Mark, which closes with Jesus’s apostles having run away when he was arrested. The other ending, 16:9-20, seems to be a summary of the ending of Matthew’s gospel and the ending of Luke’s gospel. This longer ending also serves to soften the original ending of Mark by providing post-resurrection appearances of Jesus and a commissioning.
The longer ending commissions the eleven, while they are sitting at table, to go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to all creation. The mission is broader here than in Matthew’s gospel; instead of only the nations receiving the gospel, every living thing now must hear it. The Johannine verse, 16, betrays the perspective of the author of John’s gospel who was overly reacting to his quest to give Christians an identity separate from their mother, Judaism. The success of the commission will be indicated by all kinds of signs, which the Markan Jesus refuses to give!
Despite the obvious fact that the shorter and longer endings of Mark’s gospel were not written by the same author who wrote the rest of the work, the commission to proclaim the good news to all of creation remains. The gospel is the good news of the victory of Jesus Christ over death. This is the message the young man gives to the women at the tomb: You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. That is all that one needs to proclaim. That is the basic message in a spirituality of mission.
Journal/Meditation: How do you proclaim the gospel, namely, that Jesus was crucified and raised?
Prayer: Ever-living God, after he was crucified, you raised your Son, Jesus Christ, to new life and entrusted this good news to those who believe and follow him. Grant that my proclamation of the gospel may bring many to faith in him, who is Lord, forever and ever. Amen.