Saturday, April 25, 2009

Red-Letter Day

Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist
Patron of captives and imprisoned people; glaziers; lawyers; lions; and notaries

Mark is believed to be the young man who ran away when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52), and the “John whose other name was Mark” (Acts 12:25). He was a disciple of Saint Peter the Apostle who traveled with him to Rome, and was referred to as “my son Mark” by the first Pope. He also traveled with his cousin Saint Barnabas, and with Saint Paul through Cyprus; evangelized in Alexandria, Egypt; established the Church there; served as its first bishop; and founded the first famous Christian school. He is considered to be the author of the earliest canonical Gospel.

Today's Word:
1 Peter 5:5-14 (Cast all your worries upon God because he cares for you)
Psalm 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17 (Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord)
Mark 16:15-20 (The Great Commission and Jesus' Ascension)

The evangelist Mark (or followers of his in the Church at Alexandria) has the honor of the first recorded account of Jesus' life and teachings - that is, the earliest of the gospels accepted into the canon of Christian Scripture. It is also the shortest of the four.

Of all the Gospels, Mark leaves us a clear impression of just how human Jesus was; consumed with a passion and a mission to proclaim the kingdom of God established on earth. There are many references to the need for repentance and to have faith; and when faith is found lacking among the disciples, Jesus expresses his humanity in the form of frustration. In Mark the person of Jesus is depicted with an unaffected naturalness. He reacts to events with authentic human emotion: pity (1:44), anger (3:5), triumph (4:40), sympathy (5:36; 6:34), surprise (6:9), admiration (7:29; 10:21), sadness (14:33-34), and indignation (14:48-49).

If nothing else, this 'just the facts' account of Jesus should leave no doubt that the Son of Man (as Mark quoted Jesus' referring to himself) was the Son of God in the flesh; Emmanuel, God with us.

The first reading for today from the apostle Peter may have been heard or read by Mark in that day - Mark is named toward the end of the passage. I am prompted by the verse I quoted above, Cast all your worries upon God because he cares for you. It is a call to turn to God first. Out of everything in the long post I made yesterday, this is the key thing for me to remember. All things are possible through turning to God first. Getting through difficulties is best possible by turning to God in prayer, examining where I am through where I've been, and discerning what steps need to be taken.

Oh happy day
Oh happy day
When Jesus washed
Oh when he washed
When Jesus washed
He washed my sins away!
Oh happy day

He taught me how to watch and fight and pray
yes, fight and pray
And he'll rejoice
and He'll rejoice in things we say
yes, things we say

Oh happy day,
Oh happy day
When Jesus washed
Oh when he washed
He washed my sins away

--O Happy Day
The Edwin Hawkins Singers
based on an 18th Century hymn, cf. Acts 8:35

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