[Since today is the feast of St. Mark, I asked him to make some comments at our Mass this morning.]
My name is Mark. I’m here to say one thing today: “Read my Gospel! Read my Good News about Jesus Christ.”
If you bring up a Bible after Mass today, I’ll even sign your Bible - on the last page of my Gospel. I’d prefer to put my mark there - my name there - instead of up front.
I don’t consider myself a great writer. In fact, I wanted in my gospel to simply report the doings of Jesus more than the sayings of Jesus.
That doesn’t mean I don’t give some of Jesus’ teachings about how to live as if you’re in the Kingdom of God - some parables, some other sayings of Jesus. But I mainly want to tell you about the healing miracles Jesus did to make life better for those who were sick and blind and paralyzed.
I did my homework. I walked with Paul for a while and heard and read some of his messages about Jesus in his letters. I also listened to Peter and heard about his experiences of knowing Jesus.
But I was no slave to either Peter and Paul. I listened to other sources. I simply tried to line up the life of Jesus for anyone who wanted to know what he was like and what he was about.
Jesus was a carpenter from the north - up there near the Lake of Galilee. He didn’t start preaching till he heard about John the Baptist’s call to our nation to repent - to change - to return to our Jewish roots - to go down to the Jordan River - to go into those waters and come up the other side like our ancestors did when they came into this land. The front part of my gospel is about Jesus going about doing good. Then as I head into the bottom quarter of my gospel - I tell about his trip down south to Jerusalem to face his destiny and to face the leaders of his people who needed a wakeup call.
Jesus was simply a carpenter who became a preacher.
He did that when he was around 30 and like any prophet and teacher and preacher he expected death for standing up to what God wants of him.
He didn’t like the way his fellow Jews were practicing their religion. It was too strict - too tough - too legalistic. They were like a fig tree - but one that didn’t produce any fruit.
It didn’t reflect the Kingdom - the way he saw God wanting us to do life.
He taught us that the message is this - that the law is simple: love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. That’s the first and greatest commandment and the second is: you must love your neighbor as yourself.
He called disciples by name to follow him. Some did. Some didn’t - walking away empty.
Early on he understood bread - people’s hunger for bread. Later on he saw people’s hunger for the bread of life - and he became that life in that bread - but he didn’t tell and do that till near the end of his life.
After preaching and healing in the North, he walked South. It was then that all hell broke loss. He told his disciples this secret - that this was going to happen - that the cross - suffering - and death - is on his horizon
When we got to Jerusalem the Pharisees made their move to destroy him.
Judas one of the key disciples sold Jesus out. He betrayed Jesus. Money, disappointment in Jesus’ mission, thinking it was more here than hereafter,
Jesus was arrested in the night.
First he had his Last Supper with his disciples. It was at the Passover Meal. He took bread. He took wine. He said, “This is my body. This is my blood. This is the Kingdom coming.”
Then he went out into the night - prayed in a garden - where he was arrested.
His disciples panicked. They fled Jesus. They deserted him. Peter denied that he even knew Jesus.
Now he was all alone before the Sanhedrin and the Roman authorities. He was mocked, spat at, ridiculed, crowned with thorns.
The next day - when put on trial - the crowd screamed, “Crucify hm. Crucify him.”
And that’s what they did, executing him on a cross
It must have been horrible - yet he went through his passion - till the end.
He screamed out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?”
But his death wasn’t the end.
On the early morning after the Sabbath of that death week - a new day arose - and his disciples discovered that he rose from the dead - and appeared to Mary of Magdala and several of his disciples
Jesus closed by telling us to start like he did - be baptized - and then go into the whole world and proclaim his good news - his gospel to all.
This then is what I’m doing.
I found out later that my gospel was the first and shortest - so start with me. Then read Matthew. He was more organized. Then Luke who told the best parables. Lastly John who was more poetic.