My dear Brothers and Sisters,
When we turn the sacred page of today’s Gospel we see Jesus giving a message to the eleven and to us. “Go out to the whole world. Proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved.” He then lists the signs that will be associated with believers in an almost mind blowing suggestion. In Jesus’ name they will cast out devils, they will have the gift of speaking various tongues, they will confront dangers such as the picking up of snakes and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison. They will lay their hands on the sick who will recover. The result of what happened to the apostles was that the Lord worked with them as they preached, confirming the Word by the signs that accompanied it.
Truly then, we cannot say that God’s Word that we hear, albeit unfortunately with the occasional yawn Sunday after Sunday, is not powerful. Today we are reminded that it depends on our response and our saying ‘yes’ if we are to go forward. Indeed, this is the time for the community and the newly baptised to grow in deepening their grasp of Jesus’ dying and rising to give us life and to make it part of our life by reflecting on the Gospel, sharing in the Eucharist and doing works of charity.
This is a thing not only for the newly baptised. The community is challenged to give thoughtful and friendly help to the newly baptised, so that we may all, especially the newly baptised, be introduced into a fuller and more effective understanding of the mysteries of the Gospel, of what they have learned and above all through their experience of the Sacraments.
Of vital importance for all of us today is contact with the Sacraments, with the Word of God, and with the newly baptised. Those three things go together because their enthusiasm brings us to a new experience of what we may well have forgotten: That Jesus is risen, that the help he offers us is real, that the power of the presence of the newly-baptised is most effective in helping us to realise what a wonderful invitation we have received and what a deep reality is given us by God.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.