Choosing not to Believe

Mark 16: 9-15
Acts 4:13-21 / Psa 118

Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to every creature.
(Mark 16: 15)

Man always doubts the promised Word,
God has to take the initiative;
We always need to be assured . . .
Lord, why is it so hard to believe?

When Jesus had risen early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After this He appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking along on the way to the country. They returned and told the others, but they did not believe them either. Later He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at table, and He upbraided 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 good news to every creature.” (Mark 16: 9-15)

Reflection

Everything that Jesus told the apostles would happen was fulfilled. He told them that He would be handed over to the Jews to be crucified and killed, and it happened. He told them that one of them would betray Him, and Judas did. He prophesied Peter’s denial before the cock crowed, and Peter’s cowardice came like clockwork. He brought Lazarus back to life, so why couldn’t they believe that He Who claimed to be the Resurrection and the Life could bring about His own resurrection?

There was good reason why the disciples preferred to doubt their companions who had seen the risen Lord, and Jesus’ assurance Himself that He would rise again from the dead. Most of them had already undergone a great trauma in their simple uncomplicated lives. When their Master died, they were like sheep scattered without a shepherd, some hiding out in their homes, others escaping into the countryside. But at least the turmoil was over. They could now begin again to pick up the pieces of their former lives, and go back to their old familiar haunts. Jesus’ coming back from the dead would mean that they could not go back to their comfortable past — it meant the dawning of a new era, a fearful future that they, the chosen ones were going to spearhead. The Holy Spirit had not yet come to inspire and embolden them. That was why they were afraid, and why they would readily doubt than believe.

It is human nature to doubt and be skeptical about things in the realm of the unknown. “Let the young ones do it, they are more bold,” we say, or “Let the more senior members handle it– they have more experience.” Why do we hesitate? Isn’t faith in our capabilities and faith in our God not enough? If we have true faith then there is no reason to be afraid, no reason to be skeptical or doubt. This was the attitude of St. Peter when he answered the Jewish elders and scribes who ordered them to stop proclaiming the Name of Jesus: “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard” (1st Reading, Acts 4:19-20).

Forgive us, Lord, whenever we doubt your love, or our capacity to follow Your Will. Help us to realize that in our mission there is no such thing as “can’t” or “won’t” when we are working for Your kingdom. Grant us the wisdom and humility to accept what we cannot understand, that we may put our trust in You. AMEN.

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