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Mark 16: 1-8 - The difficulty to believe in the Resurrection

tap 2 1Manuel Baldemor, Philippines, “Fiesta Mood”The Gospel of Mark ends in a disconcerting and outrageous note.  Its original version in fact ends right on Chapter 16, verse 8, having the verses that follow been added later on.  It is the only Gospel that despite mentioning the announcement of the resurrection, does not tell us of any encounters with the Risen Jesus.

Before our eyes we find these women going to the tomb to anoint the Master’s body, worried about the tombstone being too heavy to be rolled away without someone’s help.  When facing the news of the open and empty tomb, in the words of the young man that speaks to them, however, they are frightened.  A fear that will not go away, despite being invited to soothe themselves with the joyful news that the Crucified who was laid out in the tomb is now living and will precede his disciples in Galilee, where he will make himself visible.

The women feel perplexed when they do not find what they anticipated and are unable to open up to a mystery that exceeds their grasp, a novelty beyond their expectations.  There is no obvious and tangible proof that Jesus is alive.  They are instead to believe what they had heard, a future promise, words asking them to get on their way, going back to their everyday life in Galilee where he has already gone ahead of all and where he will show himself to them.

Besides receiving an announcement specifically for them, these women disciples are sent to tell it to Peter and the Disciples.  But their awe and fear get the best of them and they do not say anything to anyone.  They fail the mission entrusted to them by giving up to be his witnesses before others.

tap 2 2Lydia Velasco, Philippines, “Five women”Mark puts us face to face with the dilemma of lacking faith in the resurrection: we may not open up, or not believe the modesty of the signs that we are offered, or remain stuck by our own fears, unwilling to set out on our way to Galilee to meet the Risen Lord.

We are told that these women fall short before these difficulties and resistance.  Maybe this happens only at first, or perhaps only to a few.  Mark is probably not interested in passing on historical facts, but rather in putting in front of his readers the possibility that involves them and touches them: that of not believing the announcement of the resurrection.

Each of us is in fact challenged to decide whether we are to trust the word of the Gospel that as we read it today it, echoes the same announcement:  “He is risen, he is not here.”
Only if we overcome our fear and decide to believe can we become witnesses to others and give continuity to that chain of faith transmission that brings an experience of resurrection and life.

Questions for reflection

Individual
When I am afraid, do I let my fears keep me from hearing and bringing the GOOD news to others?  WHY?  Why can’t I trust God when something in my life changes?
Communal
Because of the many changes going on in religious life today, do we conclude that Jesus is “not here” and try to go back to our “old ways” instead of believing in Resurrection and new life?  How can we change?

Meditation

Passage adapted from a reflection of the Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, who inspires Filipinos to become missionaries
The risen Lord is a mission-sending Lord. This is part of Easter spirituality ... all part of Easter joy that they are sent by the risen Lord.
More than 80 percent of the Philippines’ estimated 92.3 million people are Catholic. An estimated 2.2 million Filipinos worked abroad.
In many parts of the world, in Europe, in North America and in South Asian countries, Filipino workers are the people who are keeping churches alive. In Brunei, most of the 20,000 Christians are Filipinos. There are Filipino nannies, cooks and household workers in Italy who have restored religiosity to Italian homes by teaching children to pray and by bringing their employers to Mass.
tap 2 3He Qi, China, “Easter morning”The world is so vast; we need witnesses to Christ, but (also) make sure we are witnesses. The Easter mandate is at the same time a mandate to get to know Jesus, to deepen our relationship with him. Part of mission is discipleship. I can be sent only if I’m a good friend of Jesus. For if I am sent without that premise, I have nothing to talk about except empty words and beautiful formulae.
Nurturing the faith requires constant listening to the Holy Spirit ... to remind us of everything that Jesus had told us. It is Jesus’ word, his love and justice that witnesses testify to and not one’s own truths.
This is an important aspect of our witnessing to Christ: sharing Christ to others ... even without us forcing Jesus on them. The beauty and the power of our witnessing to Christ will make people see the beauty of his teaching, and with his or her mind will hear the call to a change of life, a change of mentality, a change of priority. This is conversion.

Our Community in the Philippines encourages us to recognize the actual signs of the Risen Lord’s presence among us…
We cannot conclude that Jesus is “not here” and cannot go back to our “old ways” because:

  • The Ministry Report of 2015 demonstrates God’s work among us - which is to heal the wounds of Christ in the poor and suffering humanity.
  • We need a fresh mindset that we are one and united regardless of color, culture, language and geographical area.
  • We must think globally that we are one congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor.  

Our Lady of Hope Community
Srs. Karen Hartman, Francesca Atorino and Armida Sison

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Published: January, 8, 2016