In each of the three synoptic Gospels, Jesus commissions the disciples before he departs from them. In Matthew, Jesus says, “go and make disciples of all nations.” In Luke He tells them it is written in the law of Moses that “repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in His name to all the nations.” In today’s Gospel from Mark, Jesus tells his disciples to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
What Jesus commands of his disciples, he also commands of us: Go out into the whole world and preach my Gospel. In his Apostolic exhortation, Christifideles Laici, Pope John Paul II wrote:
The entire mission of the Church, then, is concentrated and manifested in evangelization. Through the winding passages of history the Church has made her way under the grace and the command of Jesus Christ: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” …and “lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age”…. “To evangelize,” writes Paul VI, “is the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her most profound identity.”
This can be something of a challenge. We have all heard the expression “preach to the choir.” It is quite easy, isn’t it, to preach to the choir, to go out among the already converted. But our task is much more difficult. We are asked – no, charged – to go outside of our own small circles into the whole world and to preach Jesus, to go out and preach the Good News to all peoples. And that is an entirely different matter from preaching comfortably within our own prayer or church groups.
Wherever we are and whatever we do, our speech and our actions signify who we are. That makes it worthwhile for us to consider:
What do my speech and actions in public signify?
Am I really doing all I can to be Christ for the world – for all the world?
How am I preaching the Gospel to all creatures?