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Faith and Disbelief

  • April 23, 2022 (readings)
  • Saturday in the Octave of Easter
  • Fr. Adam Zettel, LC
  • Mark 16:9-15

    When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either. But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

    Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have risen from the dead! I have spent this week in celebration of your Resurrection trying to penetrate this great mystery. Help me in today’s time of prayer to understand that you are really speaking to me, asking me to move, and motivating me to have greater love and passion for you. Let the faith to which you call me penetrate and transform my whole life. 

    Encountering Christ:

    1. They Did Not Believe: Mark gave us a quick summary of the events surrounding Jesus’ Resurrection, but he did so in a way that emphasized this hard fact: these disciples, even though they were the ones who had been chosen by Christ and had seen his miracles many times, did not believe the message of the Resurrection. Mary of Magdala was a very credible witness, and the two from Emmaus certainly told the truth, but the other disciples just couldn’t believe. For many reasons, we can also sometimes find it hard to believe in God. In our day, “poor (or nonexistent) catechesis, a fiercely secular culture, public hostility toward Catholicism, traumatic harm or loss, scandal caused by the sins of believers” (On Losing the Faith, David G. Bonagura, Jr., “The Catholic Thing”), or our own sin can darken our intellect and cause us to lose faith. Faith is an infused virtue given by God as a gift, but we must also cultivate it in our lives. If we feel our faith is weak, let us beg the Lord for an increase in faith. The Lord loves to answer this prayer on our behalf. 

    2. Jesus Rebuked Them: When Jesus visited the disciples, he rebuked them for doubting the messengers of his Resurrection. All faith is built essentially on this element of trusting in the witnesses who have shared their belief with us. When we struggle with our faith, we are fortunate to have access to an enormous cloud of witnesses–saints, doctors of the church, faithful family and friends, spiritual directors–to whom we can turn. Let us have the courage to take our doubts or even crises in faith to others who can guide us, advise us, and pray for us while we gather strength from the Holy Spirit to increase in faith. 

    3. They Were Sent: These disciples received a rebuke from Christ for their lack of faith, and in the same instance were sent to preach the Gospel to the whole world. By our Baptism, we too are commissioned to preach the Gospel (CCC 1213)—all of us! Although we are sinners, we are commanded to invite others into the family of Christ. We may be rich or poor, talented or simple, docile or stubborn. It doesn’t matter because there are no exceptions to the call to evangelize. Faith is not a private act. It brings us into a relationship with other believers (who are strengthened by our faith) and all of God’s people who need to hear the message of salvation.

    Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I am slow to believe, like your disciples, and I am slow to go out and speak about you to others. Renew my conviction, renew my fervor, renew my faith in you. Give me the heart of an apostle who is on fire! Give me the bold certainty that you gave your great saints, so I can convince others to believe.

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take a moment to speak with someone about how blessed I am by my faith.

    For Further Reflection: Strengthen your testimony about the resurrection with some solid apologetics.


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