Today’s reading is Mark 16:1-20:
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.
I was walking out of CVS with a bag in one hand and fifty different thoughts running through my head. I had planned the next hour, the rest of the night, the next few days, and it seemed like I was trying to plan my whole life.
I wasn’t more than 10 feet out the door when I realized that I was about to blow past another person on the street, not making eye contact and becoming number to their pain.
It was then that I felt the gentle nudge of God on my hardened heart, and felt His love and compassion for the young woman curled up in ragged clothes that didn’t stand a chance against the cold. After returning to CVS to get her a few snacks and a warmer blanket, I had the privilege of speaking with her and her boyfriend for about half an hour. They were wonderful — they loved joking around and they were there for each other despite numerous factors working against them.
I don’t know if I’ll ever forget the look of hurt in the 23 year-old girl’s eyes as she recalled how a man had responded to her sign for money by spitting on her backpack while shouting vulgar insults.
Really? Is that what she deserved or even needed?
To think that only half an hour ago, I was going to turn a cold shoulder and walk by someone in need. It was then that I realized how dehumanizing our behavior can be.
By now, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Mark 16. I think Mark 16 is so powerful: “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’’ I personally am a huge fan of talking about God, but this verse, out of context, doesn’t do justice to the powerful implications of the rest of the chapter. Shortly after, Jesus not only sends the disciples to share the gospel, but gives them the power to do great works.
It struck me after reading through this familiar chapter that Jesus continued to work through us even as he sat at the right hand of God. Not only did Jesus’ ministry selflessly serve other people, up to the point of death on a cross, but his resurrection provided the ultimate victory so that he could continue to work in us and through us from heaven. Jesus never stopped serving, and we are called to do the same.
While we must give credit to God’s name, acts of service have the ability to do great things: to heal, to soften people’s hearts, to open up trust, to restore, to affirm. Service modeled after Jesus is a true testament to his love and saving grace, and it is then that people will see that we are set apart from the world through Christ.
We return to my encounter with the homeless woman. It’s the humble service that Jesus provided to “the least of us” that is most important. When we humble ourselves to service in Christ’s name, we see people through the pure eyes and heart of Jesus. People will see and feel Jesus in us. No matter the time or place, we are called to share the gospel with the expectations that Jesus will be faithful as he works through us to bring his children back to him. Jesus not only paid the ultimate sacrifice when he died on the cross, but his love for us continued even as he is risen in heaven. It is that kind of commitment to love and service that give us a glimpse of the depth and might of God’s heart.
Even though we so often harden our hearts and let unbelief reduce our expectations from God and the body of Christ, Jesus meets us where we are and gives us the capabilities to do great works. He is faithfully carrying out his work in us. Therefore, success in ministry isn’t about the number of times we speak about God, or the number of people we can bring to church, but success modeled after Jesus displays a relentless love rooted in service — and this is the inexplicable beauty of the gospel that will draw all hearts to God.
Diana Sheedy ’17 lives in Kirkland House.