Homily for the feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist
25 April 2015,at Akabane Church
14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
As we celebrate the feast of Saint Mark, the Evangelist, todays Gospel reading is taken from the epilogue of the Mark’s Gospel.
I am somewhat awkward to give a homily on this part of the Gospel.
Mark says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” Of course, we are expected to proclaim the Gospel to all the nations. But what does it mean to proclaim the gospel to all the creatures? I think the whole of creation is waiting for its redemption. Apostle Paul says that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay, and obtain the glorious liberty given to all the children of God.
Then Mark says: “16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
Does this verse mean that those who did not have a chance to know Jesus must go to hell? No! Vatican II says that, the merciful God lets everyone share the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ.
“17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
How should we interpret these passages? Should we accept them literally? I think these phrases mean that, we shall be able to overcome every evil when the Lord Jesus Christ comes again. In the Lord’s prayer. We pray every day, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”
Also, in mass, the priest continues to pray:
“Deliver us Lord, we pray, from every evil,
Graciously grant peace in our day,
That, by the help of your mercy,
We may be always free from sin
And safe from all distress,
As we await the blessed hope
And the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.”
The mission of the Church is evangelization. At the end of the Gospel, Mark indicates two tasks of our church.
1. To proclaim the Gospel.
2. To get over every evil.
Therefore, we should fight to conquer every evil, and to do our best to make peace in this world. As Jesus says:
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew (5:9)
On February 25, 2015, in the occasion of the 70th year after the Second World War, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan issued a message on peace entitled:
“Blessed are the peacemakers – Now especially, peace must not depend upon weapons”
I ask you to read it. English translation is available.
Today I just quote its conclusion:
“In Conclusion, we recall the words of Pope John Paul II in his Appeal for Peace in Hiroshima: “Peace must always be the aim: peace pursued and protected in all circumstances. Let us not repeat the past, a past of violence and destruction. Let us embark upon the steep and difficult path of peace, the only path that befits human dignity, the only path that leads to the true fulfillment of the human destiny, the only path to a future in which equity, justice and solidarity are realities and not just distant dreams.”
We are encouraged by the words of Jesus Christ, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt. 5:9). Seventy years after the end of the war and 50 years after the end of the Second Vatican Council, let us renew our determination to seek peace and to work for peace. We Catholics in Japan are small in number, but in union with other Christians and along with believers of other religions and those throughout the world who wish for peace, we renew our commitment to work to make peace a reality. “