Tuesday, April 24, 2012

St Mark

St. Mark the Evangelist Emmanuel Tzanes (1657)

St Mark the Evangelist 

April 25th

Who was Mark? There are several occurrences of that name in the New Testament. There are also traditions that identify Mark with some unnamed characters (the 'young man' who fled naked from the Garden of Gethsemane, for example). Possibly all these refer to the same person, but possibly not. There is no way of knowing. What we do know, however, is that 'Mark' refers to the author of the second Gospel. Whoever he was, we have reason to remember him, because the second Gospel, scholars agree, is one on which both Matthew and Luke relied heavily. So do we, which also gives us reason to celebrate him.

But more than that, we can reflect to considerable purpose on the distinctiveness of his Gospel. Mark has no birth stories. He begins with Jesus' ministry, and most strikingly, he ends, not with the verses later scribes appear to have added, but with the blunt observation that the women who found the empty tomb "said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid". This is consonant with his focus, in fact. Throughout, Mark's Gospel invites us to ask the questions his contemporaries asked -- Who is this Jesus? Is he the Messiah or not? -- and to see ourselves in his disciples as they struggled with their own doubts and faithlessness, only to find that even after death  by crucifixion, Jesus would not let them go.

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