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Confirming the Word with signs | Gospel of may 12

By 8 May, 2024No Comments
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Gospel according to Saint Mark 16,15-20:

Jesus said to his disciples: “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. These signs will accompany those who believe: 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.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Confirming the Word with signs

Luis CASASUS President of the Idente Missionaries

Rome, May 12, 2024 | Ascension of the Lord

Acts 1:1-11; Eph 4: 1-13; Mk 16:15-20

Six centuries before Christ, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, born in Ephesus, affirmed that the foundation of all things is in incessant, permanent change. He reflected this in his sentences, making it clear that for him the fundamental thing was to be aware that nature changed, that it was never the same. Likewise, the human being. We are subject, he insisted, to continuous physical, mental and spiritual changes. I am not the same as I was yesterday. It is a brilliant intuition, which he elevated to absolute and that is why he said that fire represents well the constant change and movement in the cosmos and in the human being.

St. Catherine of Siena once wrote: If we are what we should be, we will set the whole world on fire; words that carry a profound meaning and whose echoes resound today more than ever.

As some say, to live is to change and, to understand this better, we are invited to contemplate the seasons of the year and the passage of time in our existence. Unexpected events; very painful moments such as the death of a loved one or a separation; the arrival of a new responsibility or the end of a stage; the deterioration of our health…all of this can help us to put our trust in God, if we do not allow pain, sadness and the inability to understand to take hold of us.

It is true that sometimes we feel as in the First Reading about Jesus’ disciples: Galileans, what are you doing standing there looking up to heaven? We cannot understand, we cannot explain to ourselves how God seems impassive, oblivious to our concerns, He does not act to bring us out of our perplexity and helplessness.

But today we hear in the Second Reading something that gives us the true meaning of the changes in our life: just as it happened to Christ, everything is oriented towards the wealth of glory that he gives as an inheritance to the saints. Not only the end of the journey, but the journey itself is important. If we embrace the plans of our heavenly Father, a glory awaits us that we can sometimes taste, anticipate; we need that confirmation, in the midst of our short-sightedness and our hesitations.

The dwelling that awaits us depends on our degree of fidelity, but St. Luke reminds us of the Master’s words:

It is not for you to know the times and dates that the Father has set by His authority. When the Holy Spirit descends upon you, you will receive strength to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

This happened immediately and we see Philip the Deacon jumping over the first cultural, social and religious barriers, beginning to evangelize the Samaritans.

Christ did not speak without personal experience. In this world, He went through stages and radical changes:

Family Life → Public Life → Passion → Death → Resurrection → Ascension.

We do not follow a very different path, but we are to help everyone to understand that pain, sacrifice, doubt, are not meaningless and sterile. This is what the apostle does relentlessly, in witnessing, precisely in encountering demons, serpents and unknown tongues, as the Gospel text reminds us today Will you and I be so clumsy, thinking that this is an exaggeration, a luminous metaphor or something from the past?


After receiving the Holy Spirit, Christ does not say that the disciples “should be witnesses”, but rather that they will be witnesses. This is truly prophetic, and he was certainly not wrong. After being stunned, looking up to heaven, the disciples set out on their journey. The same thing happens to us, we find it hard to believe that the mission cannot wait, that the heart of every human being is thirsty, a thirst much stronger than any form of unbelief, mediocrity or malice.

St. John Paul II, when he was still Archbishop Wojtyła, meditated deeply on what it means to be witnesses, going beyond imagining that we have to engage in numerous activities, study or travel a lot.

֍ First of all, St. John Paul II tells us that to be a witness means to be in union with Christ. St. John Paul II explains that to be a witness, to bear witness to Christ, means to be united to Christ in order to “see the Father (cf. Jn 14:9) in Him and through Him.

It is interesting to note that the first aspect of witness is not something we immediately associate with the work of evangelization, which consists in sharing the Gospel with others, but in seeing the Fatherby uniting ourselves to Christ, in Him and through Him. How could we bear witness to God’s love for others if we are not able to see them through the eyes of Christ? Let us remember the first call of the disciples. They were called to be with the Master before being sent out to be fishers of men. The relationship with Christ always precedes the mission. If it does not, our nets will remain empty and all our efforts will be fruitless.

For some reason, all the Founders of institutes, orders or congregations dedicated to any activity have set as a condition, as a starting point, a prayerful gaze on Christ and communion among the members of their religious family. In the case of our Father Founder, Fernando Rielo, he has expressed it in a very explicit and literal way, saying that “idente” means to walk identifying oneself with the person of Christ.

֍ Secondly, St. John Paul II teaches that, in order to be a witness, one must be able to “read in Christ the mystery of man“. Christ is the perfect man and, if we want to be human, we must resemble Him. Witness is not the product of clever words and eloquent speech. These things are useful, but they are not the most crucial. To be effective and convincing, the messenger must become the message.

Witnessing ultimately means imitating. In a world that glorifies innovation and originality, the Christian call to witness goes against the grain. If we are to be witnesses, we are called to imitate and not to worship today’s most seductive word: “innovate”. Ultimately, we must imitate Christ in all aspects of his life, word, action, priority and intention. If people are attracted to our communities, it must be because they are attracted to Christ; we cannot take credit for it. In fact, the cult of personality, in which so much emphasis is given to the charismatic and unique personality of the preacher or pastor, does harm to the Christian message. To be more like Christ means to die to ourselves.

Paradoxically, the more we imitate Christ, the more our unique and inimitable identity is exposed.

The story is told of a lion cub, just a few weeks old, who had lost his way. He joined a flock of sheep and soon considered himself just another lamb, trying to bleat and eat grass like the others. One day a roar was heard coming from the forest, the sheep fled as the lion approached. But the little cub was not afraid.

The lion, who was his father, took him by the neck, made him see his reflection in a pool of water, and said to him: Now do you see who you are and whose are you?

In the Ascension, Christ gives us visible proof of who He is and of who we are, by leaving us as witnesses, despite our manifest mediocrity.

֍ Finally, John Paul II emphasizes the sacramental dimension of witness. He writes: It is the sacramental dimension through which Christ himself acts in a human being who opens himself to his action in the power of the Spirit of Truth. For our witness to bear fruit, it is not only a matter of uniting ourselves to Christ or imitating him. Witness is not only a human effort. It is always God’s initiative. It is letting Him act through us and in us, and that is why He left to the Church the sacraments, efficacious channels of sanctifying grace. Our work of evangelization can only bear fruit, lasting fruit, if it draws its strength from the source of grace, which is made available to us through the sacraments.

The Acts of the Apostles, which are read throughout the Easter season, illustrate well the above points made by St. John Paul II. We see the public ministry of the Apostles flourish precisely because they were in full communion with Christ in His ministry, preaching and even suffering. The Apostles were copies of Christ, bearing witness by imitation, drawing others to Christ rather than to themselves. And finally, we see the first missionary communities, which were communities in prayer, communities in worship, communities that were built on the solid foundation of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. They understood that without the sacraments and an active prayer life, their evangelizing work would fail. In fact, their worship would be the main source of evangelization, drawing so many to embrace and celebrate the mystery of Christ.

We often speak of Lent as a penitential season, an opportune time to repent. But repentance is not something we do only during Lent. It extends to Easter and beyond, to all seasons and the cycle of life. For the gospel of repentance is not about pointing out the sins of others. Our repentance is also an invitation to conform our lives to Christ and to be witnesses of repentance by submitting ourselves to him daily, so that God’s love may reach its perfection in us.

St. Teresa of Avila said: Christ has now on earth no body but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the feet with which he must go about doing good, and yours are the hands with which he must bless us now. Playing soccer, caring for the sick, feeding the baby, being an Idente Youth teacher, or taking care of grandchildren… all of these can bear witness to Jesus through our attitude. Christ continues to act with us, through the signs that accompany our works, as Mark writes.


In the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,