Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).
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.
"Mom, I don't get it. Why did Jesus have to be baptized when He was already holy?"
"Excellent question! You know that we are baptized to remove original sin, and Jesus had no original sin. Well, Jesus did it to show us what we are supposed to do, to be an example to us."
My daughter posed this question yesterday during the first luminous mystery of the Rosary. The answer I gave has had me thinking about how many things Jesus did that he did not have to do, merely to show us that we should do these things. In fact, His entire life and everything He did was carefully chosen to instruct us.
Often in the Gospels, Jesus teaches with stories, but more often He teaches with His own actions. In this Sunday's Gospel, He does something rare; He directly instructs his disciples. These are His last words before His Ascension. I wrote before (but I can't find the post right now) about Jesus giving us Mary on the Cross before He died with some of His last words. Last words are important, so let us listen carefully.
We are to proclaim the Gospel to every creature whether they believe or not. Do we? Some will believe. Some will not. Do we really witness our faith to those in line at the coffee shop, the grocery store, the baseball game?
For those who believe, great signs will be permitted, signs to confirm their faith and evangelize others. Today, we still receive signs. I know every one of us can point to some unexplained moment that encouraged our feeble faith. We must have confidence that this is God working.
In fact, Jesus went up to Heaven, but "the Lord worked with them" as the disciples preached the Gospel throughout the world. He is no longer physically on the earth, but this enables Him to be present with his followers throughout the world. He is working with us, not against us as it can sometimes feel. We cannot forget this.
Jesus, your life taught us so much about how to live as a Christian in our world. Please help us to believe, to help others to believe, and to know that you are with us through your signs and comforting presence.