Commentaries on the Readings: 1 Peter 5:5b-14; Ps 88; Mark 16:15-20
Ironically, the Gospel reading is from a passage at the end of Mark’s gospel, a section that is thought to be an added supplement to his original text. It is believed that Mark’s gospel ends with verse 8 of chapter 16 where we read: “So they [the women] went out and ran from the tomb, distressed and terrified. They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.” This seems to have been regarded as too abrupt an ending so brief summaries borrowed from other sources were added on, including, the appearance to Mary Magdalene (John), the appearance to two disciples “on their way to the country”, a clear reference to the disciples on their way to Emmaus (Luke), the appearance of the Risen Jesus to the eleven apostles (Matthew, Luke and John), and Jesus taken up to heaven (Luke, Acts).
The reading is taken from the appearance to the Eleven where Jesus gives them the mandate to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world and where there is a promise that believers will be able to work wonders – expelling evil spirits, speaking in strange tongues, be protected from harmful elements and bring healing to the sick. The reading ends with a brief description of the Ascension when the Risen Jesus goes back to his Father’s right-hand side.
Mark, of course, through his gospel has spelt out the challenge for followers of Christ to imitate him in the living out of their discipleship and fulfilling the missionary command to establish the Kingdom where God’s will is being done on earth.
The First Reading from the last chapter of the First Letter of Peter contains instructions to the younger leaders of the community. The first instruction is that all should be eager to serve each other and not have some dominating over others. They are also warned to be on the watch for evil forces and be firm and strong in their faith. They need to realise that their brothers and sisters in faith are suffering in many places because of persecution. But in time God will strengthen them and put them on a firm foundation. Again, it was through his gospel, that Mark conveyed this message through his presentation of Jesus as establishing God’s Kingdom and also making clear that every follower of Jesus must identify with Jesus’ spirit of self-sacrifice and share in it. As Jesus accepted his cross and through his death passed to glory, so his followers too much carry their cross to share in the same glory