“They went and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word with the signs that followed it.” (Mark 14:20).
The Feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist
1 Pt 5:5b-14; Mr 16:15-20
Interestingly, for this feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist, the church does not use its own words but a later addition to its gospel that changed the ending. Many scholars agree that the Gospel of Mark ends in verses 1-9 of chapter 16, the scene where the women discover the empty tomb and meet a young man who tells them that Jesus has risen and preceded the disciples into Galilee. The terrified women rush out of the grave but say “nothing to anyone”.
Why would Mark leave his readers hanging on to the eventual Good News of the resurrection? We notice that he begins his gospel with the assertion that this story is about “Jesus Christ, the Son of God”, so he has no doubt about the end of the story and the triumphant resurrection of Jesus.
Mark is also believed to be the earliest gospel, written about 20 years before Matthew and Luke and 40–50 years before John, all of which added more detail and theological interpretation to Mark’s simpler account. The most comprehensive addition to its original text summarizes the apparition stories that are part of the growing tradition of the resurrection and ends with the apostolic sending by Jesus that constitutes today’s Gospel.
Yet the Gospel of Mark is no less sophisticated than the other evangelists, and some scholars argue that its sudden end was deliberate – its way of presenting the challenge of paschal faith directly to its readers. It makes them – and us – bewildered witnesses to the empty tomb and to the message that Jesus is alive and goes into the world before us.
The question becomes, do we believe this? And if we do, what implications does this have for our life of faith? Isn’t Mark telling us not to demand proof or dedicate Jesus’ starting point in Jerusalem, but to focus our response of faith on his demise in the world where we will find him, especially among the poor, the oppressed and crucified in history.
Go and share his redemptive work of healing and reconciliation, of seeking justice and peace. This is how we will know that he is alive, risen from the dead, source of life for whoever believes in him. Only when we commit to the revelation that love actually overcomes death can we then cross the threshold of faith to celebrate him as “Jesus Christ, the Son of God”.