April 25, Saint Mark, Evangelist
The great commission
He [Jesus] said to them, “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.” …. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs. Mk 16,15-20
This is Jesus’s commission for the Church and these are the promises. The answer is up to us. A few days ago, we received a pamphlet with the wishes of Father Raniero Cantalamessa, an our day’s apostle, a friend. It was printed on the occasion of his fifty years of priesthood, fully lived to proclaim the gospel in any way, all over the continents, to people of every class and race. Since 1980 he has been the Pontifical Household preacher, and therefore, during Advent and Lent, he teaches the catechesis to the Pope and bishops at the Vatican. Father Raniero says: “When John Paul II thanked me for the sermon, I used to reply to his ‘It is you who preach us, Your Holiness, because you give us the example of humility, respect, esteem for the Word of God’”. Since 1995, he has hosted almost continuously every Saturday evening on the Italian national television network the broadcast “Le Ragioni della Speranza” (i.e., “The Reasons for Hope”). Father Raniero says: “If I were to give up to some of the many commitments I have – as it will happen sooner or later – this should be the last to be left”. In 1980, after announcing Jesus Christ all over Italy, Father Raniero began preaching abroad, from France. In 1985 he crossed the oceans, first going to the United States, where he went several times, then to Australia. The following years, with the rate of one mission per month, he preached all over the world, in stadiums and convents, so that he could make as his own the words an unknown Brazilian trucker wrote on the back of his truck: “vivo em casa, moro na rua – I live in a house, I dwell the street”. A whole book would not be enough to list all the places where Father Raniero preached. Between a mission and the other one, he has written several books and articles and, occasionally, we have had the privilege of having him for dinner at our homse. His response to today’s page from the Gospel has been an exceptional one. It must stand as an example: each of us is called to respond the commission to evangelize using all the talents that have been given to us. There are no outstanding calls: There are only outstanding answers.