Homily at the mass held at the closure of the General Chapter
By Fr. Mark Rotsaert S.J.
First Reading: Col 4: 7-18
Gospel: Mk 16: 9-20
It is rather strange to have this passage of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, at the end of the Chapter. However I think it is a beautiful passage that expresses very well fraternal relationships in the early Church, and if you read this passage well, these fraternal relationships are in Jesus Christ.
The key word that is used six times in this passage is the word “greetings” “Greetings, my brothers and sisters, greetings from my dear friend Luke the doctor greets your Community. Jesus Justus adds his greetings, Epaphras, our fellow citizen sends his greetings, this servant of Jesus Christ. The text is indeed beautiful and it ends with Paul’s own greetings “this greeting is in my own hand”.
I found that this passage renders the atmosphere, our experience at this moment, the end of the Chapter and that it also renders what we have experienced a short while ago in the Chapter hall: a great gratitude for all that the Lord has done in us and through us, through each one of us. Now we are sent hom , each to her Province, to her work, her Community. Greet them all, relate to them that which burns in your heart so as to comfort your Sister in your Communities and in your Provinces.
Now a brief comment on the end of Mark’s Gospel. Mark does not relate the apparitions, but here in the passage we heard at the beginning, there is a summary of the apparitions and then it is the sending forth of the Apostles by Jesus:” Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved. These are the signs that will be associated with believers. And so the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them was taken up into heaven there at the right hand of God He took His place, while they going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.
The Lord worked with them. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, but He continues to be among us and works with us till the end. The last word of the Gospel. is similar to the last words of St Mathew’s Gospel.
‘Go therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you, and look I am with you always, yes, till the end of time’
During these days we have had the experience of God’s presence among us. We return to our Provinces and we can be sure of the Lord’s word ‘I am with you ‘It is He that accompanies us in our work, in our Communities.