Feast of Saint Mark, evangelist
(1 Peter 5:5b-14; Mark 16:15-20)
St. Mark’s gospel is the shortest of the four and in all probability the first written. Its Greek is rustic, and its text is full of primary emotions. But none of these factors make it so compelling. More than anything Mark’s gospel conveys urgency because it justifies the suffering of discipleship.
After Peter intuits Jesus’ identity as Messiah, Jesus gives a warning to those who will accept him as such. Since he will suffer for the sake of God’s kingdom, they must prepare themselves for the same. Jesus does not tolerate any pretension of glory among them. Rather he tells them that the one who will be first must serve the rest until the end. The passion narrative in Mark does not spare Jesus any pain or cruelty. He is tortured, ridiculed, and lingers on the cross more in Mark than in any other gospel. His followers can expect similar mistreatment.
With few exceptions Christians experience suffering even martyrdom in greater numbers today than ever. But in truth few of us are likely to be tortured physically. However, we may be belittled or even ostracized for making Sunday worship a priority or for defending refugees and life in the womb. As readers of Mark’s gospel, we should welcome such opportunities to follow our Lord and Savior.