Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Feast of Saint Mark, evangelist

(I Peter 5:5b-14; Mark 16:15-20)

The Gospel according to Mark is by far the shortest of the four canonical gospels. Although in effect this means that it lacks the fascinating narrative of Jesus’ birth as well as the most famous of Jesus’ parables, being short has its advantages. One such benefit that has been exploited in recent times is that it is the easiest gospel to memorize. Not very long ago a single actor performed the whole gospel on Broadway!

Mark is also notable for its portrayal of the humanity of Jesus by recounting his different emotions. In Mark Jesus is moved with pity for the leper (1:41), with anger at the Pharisees for not caring enough for the man with the withered hand (3:5), and with love the rich man who comes to ask him what must be done to gain eternal life (10:21). Mark shows Jesus as everyone’s best friend: a man that can be counted on both for support when one is in need and for criticism when one puts on airs.

Most of us will never memorize large swatches of the Gospel of Mark, but there is a line in the gospel which would be good to remember. It is sometimes called the “Jesus Prayer.” When the blind beggar turns to the Lord saying, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me” (10:47), he speaks for all of us who have difficulty seeing with the eyes of faith. At such times we also are wise to pray, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.”