1Pt 5:5B-14; Ps 89:2,3,6,7,16,17; Mk 16:15-20
“The Lord confirmed the word”
The Evangelist, Saint Mark, was truly blessed. He knew the joyful shout, and in the light of The LORD’s Countenance, he walked. His joyful shout is the Alleluia of Easter Joy. Like the lion who roars in the wilderness and no one dare ignore it, Saint Mark roars the good news of Jesus, who died, rose, and took his seat at the right hand of God. Through all generations our mouths have proclaimed the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus; indeed, we sing of the favors of the LORD forever. It is the Father speaking to King David, the man after God’s own heart that says what we read in the responsorial psalm, “My kindness is established forever.” God’s kindness to David is fulfilled in his kindness to the Son of David, the Lord Jesus, who preaches, heals and dies upon the cross that Saint Mark is urgent to reveal on every page of his gospel. Finally, at the end of Saint Mark’s gospel we read, “So 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.” Such kindness is ultimately confirmed in heaven. In the assembly of the holy ones of every generation those who heard good news from Saint Mark have joined in the joyful shout of those who have believed what the Evangelist believed and wrote. As the Psalm proclaims, no one in the skies can rank with the LORD. Indeed, no one is like the LORD among the sons of God. In this glory we rejoice with Saint Mark and all the holy ones. Our only justice is in the LORD, and we exalt in the mystery that Saint Mark writes about in his Gospel. We exalt in the Lord Jesus who died and rose so that we may have life seated with him at the right hand of The Father. Indeed, this life begins here at this liturgy and is complete only in the endless liturgy of heaven. Indeed, the LORD confirms his word to us in Saint Mark and in the gift of eternal life.
What a great relief to have someone to cast all our worries upon. Indeed, even though there is no room in Christianity for worry—still we worry. Indeed, even though we have great concern that flows out of our sharing in the compassion of Christ—still a lingering worry remains, every now and then. To worry implies that we are in control and that we have absolute power to make any change we see as necessary. Wrong. We have a limited awareness and a limited power to change situations. Often the only changes we can make is in ourselves—in our behavior and eventually in our hearts. Saint Peter writes to believers in every time and place to those who have heard and embraced the good news about which Saint Mark writes. We are to clothe ourselves with humility in our dealings with one another, just as Christ has been clothed with humility—extreme humility upon the cross. However, if we choose to indulge in pride, we will be humbled. If we humble ourselves then we will be exalted. All this will happen only if we are “sober and vigilant.” As Saint Peter goes on to remind us our real enemy is the Devil who daily prowls around like a roaring lion to do us harm. We take comfort that the “lion of the tribe of Judah” is the iconic presentation of Saint Mark; his roaring of the good news keeps us safe in the Word of God. We take comfort; we are steadfast in faith knowing that our brothers and sisters throughout the world hear both lions roaring. This struggle with temptation is indeed our being tested to confirm our union with Christ who suffered more than we ever can. It is by his wounds that we are all healed. At the very end of our first reading Saint Peter greets us for his son, in Christ, Saint Mark who has heard the good news from the Apostle Peter, the eyewitness, and become himself an Evangelist, an ear-witness because of his sharing in the preaching, teaching, and miracles of Saint Peter.
The Lord Jesus promises the Eleven and all who have heard his teaching through the ministry and witness of Saint Mark that he will confirm the word they preach through accompanying signs. Indeed these first witnesses have a message that is urgent. Is it urgent for us? Do we engage in the new evangelism taught by our two most recent popes? Do we have an urgency to proclaim the Gospel to any creature, much less every creature? Where are the signs? Do we drive out demons? Do we speak new languages? How about picking up serpents with our hands? Are we protected from being poisoned? Do we lay hands on the sick so that they recover? When there are no signs and wonders why do we wonder that our evangelization is ineffective? Some young people feel distant from the church because the Lord Jesus isn’t that exciting. He’s no hero. He performed many signs and wonders. Saint Mark presents the Lord Jesus as a man of action; he makes present the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven by the way he casts out evil and brings relief to the afflicted. Even after the great sign of his death and resurrection, many refused to believe. Even the first evangelization didn’t always have a great impact, no matter how urgently it was proclaimed. No matter how many signs and wonders accompanied the Lord’s ministry, no matter how abundant the signs and wonders to support the early preaching of the Apostles and disciples, not everyone believed. Even in our own time the startling witness of Mother Therese of Calcutta can be explained away with one snide comment: “Oh she just used the poor to make herself look good.” The reporter responded: “OK why don’t you just live the way she lived for a year and then tell us she was being self-serving?” Only after trying to live in the power of the resurrection will we be converted. Only after we have given ourselves over to the Holy Spirit will his teaching and his love touch our hearts and change our lives. Once we start giving a powerful witness to the Lord Jesus and his gospel will we have an impact on the world and all its creatures.