The Gospel according to Mark (16:15-20)
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
Today, we interrupt the Easter season order of readings to honor St Mark the Evangelist. Mark is traditionally the first of the Gospels written, and his take on Jesus’ story is all about Jesus in action. Even from the very beginning, it starts like an action movie, with John the Baptist in the wilderness, announcing the coming of the Messiah.
Some scholars say that the reason for the action-oriented writing is that Mark was writing the Gospel as recounted to him by Simon Peter, and any who know the story of Jesus know that Peter was the one follower of His who stood out, for good or ill. To me, it highlights how Jesus reached out to everyone, even though it was not popular, and was not seen as acceptable to the religious or political leaders of His day.
What we know of the person of St Mark shows that he wasn’t necessarily the perfect follower of Jesus, either. On the night of His betrayal, some scholars say that the young man who ran away, leaving his clothes behind was Mark. The Acts of the Apostles records how Peter was so upset when Mark turned away from the ministry to go home that he split with Barnabas over the matter. Yet, Peter highlighted how important Mark was to his ministry in his later letters, so even if he fell short early on, Mark made up for it later.
That’s the lesson for us today – we don’t have to be perfect in ministry. We don’t have to love perfectly. We just have to love with everything we are, and ask Jesus to help us to do more than we can on our own. And, when we fail (because we all will), we ask Jesus to call us back, and then go and try to continue on the journey with Him. That’s the life of a Christian, a follower of Jesus, and that’s the life we are called to live.
Action for the Day:
Take time today to pray that you may be a more loving person, even (and maybe especially) when it’s difficult.
If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below!