The resurrection of Jesus compels us to bring the "good news" to the world
The first person in Scripture to witness the resurrection of Jesus was Mary Magdalene and Our Lord immediately gave her a mission: to bring the “good news” to other people.
Jesus said to her, “‘Go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord;’ and she told them that he had said these things to her” (John 20:17-18).
For this reason, Mary Magdalene is called the “Apostle of the Resurrection” or the “Apostle to the Apostles” and is a perfect example of the integral link between the resurrection of Jesus and the need for evangelization.
Later on Jesus sent his apostles on the same mission, commanding them to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
This need to bring the joy of the resurrection to the nations was especially present in the centuries that followed and created many saints, such as Saint Apollonius, whose feast we celebrate today.
Saint Apollonius was a saint of the 2nd century who was known as a great apologist, well versed in philosophy. He was possibly a Roman senator. He sought to defend the Christian faith before the Roman senate and for that, died a martyr’s death.
While we may not be called to deliver a defense of the faith in front of our persecutors, we are all called to bring the joy of the resurrection to those we meet. It is something that is essential to the Christian faith and should come from our own experience of joy at the news of the resurrection. Mary Magdalene felt that joy when she saw Jesus after the resurrection and it propelled her to share it with the apostles.
During this first week of Easter, here are five quotes from recent popes on the joy, beauty and necessity of evangelization — sharing the “good news.” May they inspire us to reflect on our own evangelization efforts, whether they are big or small.
All who believe in Christ should feel, as an integral part of their faith, an apostolic concern to pass on to others its light and joy. This concern must become, as it were, a hunger and thirst to make the Lord known, given the vastness of the non-Christian world. – Saint John Paul II
Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that ‘delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour, who have first received the joy of Christ. – Pope Francis
The Church always evangelizes and has never interrupted the path of evangelization. She celebrates the Eucharistic mystery every day, administers the sacraments, proclaims the word of life—the Word of God, and commits herself to the causes of justice and charity. And this evangelization bears fruit: It gives light and joy, it gives the path of life to many people; many others live, often unknowingly, of the light and the warmth that radiate from this permanent evangelization. – Pope Benedict XVI
[A]n evangelizing community is filled with joy; it knows how to rejoice always. It celebrates every small victory, every step forward in the work of evangelization. Evangelization with joy becomes beauty in the liturgy, as part of our daily concern to spread goodness. The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving. – Pope Francis
Christian hope sustains us in committing ourselves fully to the new evangelization and to the worldwide mission, and leads us to pray as Jesus taught us: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” – Saint John Paul II