The Feast of St. Mark

 April 25 is the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist. I have a fondness for this day as this saint was also known as John Mark. Hey, same as me! There are a few things about the story of Mark that also stick with me. 

John Mark is traditionally believed to be the author of the Gospel of Mark which is widely held to be the earliest Gospel written. It is the shortest Gospel and the authors of Matthew and Luke appear to have lifted portions of Mark to fill out their own texts. I like that it is short and begins with a clear statement of what it is all about: “The beginning of the Good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” That is a great opening line and powerful as there are questions about who this Jesus guy is as the story unfolds. The reader can not be in doubt as to what the author thinks. 

This opening statement is of great importance when one considers what is most likely the original ending of Mark. It comes in Chapter 16 when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Salome come to the tomb to find a young man sitting there and proclaiming that Jesus was raised. Verse 8 is considered the original ending of the Gospel as the majority of texts end here: “So they went out from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them: and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Bam! Lights out! Curtain closed! That ending sends the reader back to that first verse to figure out what this book is all about. 

Of course, some editor came along and added some happier notes to the end. We know that somebody got the message as we are telling the story 2000 years later. It is a way of telling the story with some literary flair. The early Christ-followers who met for worship in the catacombs of Rome would have understood what it was to be terrified and afraid. 

On April 25, 2020, the feast of St Mark, we citizens of the worldl know what it means to be afraid. There is uncertainty about how we will emerge from this pandemic. Angry voices shout blame, stir up fear, and forecast doom. Like those first witnesses of the resurrection, many are speechless at the prospect of what the future may hold. Like those who at first told noone there are those even now in word and deed who bear witness to life growing in the midst of fear. That, my friends, is the Good News of Christ alive among us. 

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