Saint Mark, Evangelist – Readings

Commentary on 1 Peter 5:5-14; Psalm 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 fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

This seems to have been regarded as too abrupt an ending, so brief summaries borrowed from other sources were added on. These include the appearance to Mary Magdalene (from John); the appearance to two disciples “on their way to the country”, a clear reference to the disciples on their way to Emmaus (from Luke); the appearance of the Risen Jesus to the eleven apostles (from Matthew, Luke and John); and Jesus taken up to heaven (from Luke and 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, being protected from harmful elements and bringing 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 spelled out the challenge for followers of Christ to imitate him in living out 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 to not have some dominating over others. They are also warned to be on the watch for evil forces and to 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 by his presentation of Jesus as establishing God’s Kingdom. Mark also made 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 must carry their cross to share in the same glory.

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