The Call Today
At our parish this past Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension. As I listened to the readings, I wondered how years passed between the event of the Ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit and the writing down of each reading. At that time the oral tradition was alive and well, and history was passed down by word of mouth. At some point each of these oral accounts were put into written word.
My question is really this, how many experiences of the power of Christ words to his disciples did it take before the Word was digested and lived out in their daily lives? If Jesus said to me as it is written in this passage of Mark:
“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.”
I would at the very least have performance anxiety. I would wonder if my faith was strong enough, if I was good enough, all of those questions that come to us when we are asked to live and walk with humility and power. The interesting thing about this gospel reading is that the disciples got their marching orders and then Jesus ascended out of their sight. I would imagine that like us the disciples had questions, I would want a manual on “How to Pick up the Serpents.” In the following line of scripture it says:
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.
So this is the question I have for myself, “Do I look for extraordinary blessing in my everyday life?” In the long run, I suppose it doesn’t matter how long it took for the reality to be moved from oral tradition into the written word. What matters is that today that message of preaching and being the carrier of the Good News is meant for me. Not as a challenge of faith as much as a response to the Word alive and active in me today.