April 25, 2016

Mark

April 25, 2016:  St. Mark, Evangelist

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Legend below
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Pope Francis Amoris Laetitia capsule (I, 14-18)
Your children are as the shoots of an olive tree
The Psalmist writes that children appear in the home beside their parents “like olive shoots,” full of vitality.  If parents are the foundations of the home, children are like the family's “living stones.”  The word most often following God's name in the Old Testament is 'child' (ben), related to 'build' (banah).  So Psalm 128, in speaking of children, uses imagery drawn from building a house and cities' social life:  “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain…  The fruit of the womb is a reward from the Lord.”  The presence of children was seen as a sign of the family's continuity through salvation history.
The New Testament speaks of “churches that meet in homes.”  A home could be a setting for the Eucharist, the presence of Christ at the table.  Remember, “I stand at the door and knock; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come to you and eat with you....”  The home is filled with God's presence, common prayer, and blessings. “Thus shall you who fear the Lord be blessed.”
The family is where children are brought up in the faith.  Note the description of the Passover celebration.  Psalm 78 celebrates the proclamation of faith within families:  “We'll tell the coming generation all that our fathers told us about the Lord's glorious deeds....  He commanded our fathers to teach their children; that the next generation might know and tell their children.”  Parents become their children’s first teachers in the faith, passing this “trade” from one person to another:  “When your son asks…  Say to him….”  Thus succeeding generations can sing to the Lord.
Parents have a responsibility for this education.  Children are called to honor their parents.  Here 'honor' has to do with fulfilling family and social commitments, not to be disregarded.  “Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and whoever glorifies his mother lays up treasure.”
Children are not the property of a family but have their own lives to lead.  Jesus obeyed his earthly parents but also said parting may be called for for the Kingdom's sake.  At 12, Jesus told his parents he had a greater mission apart his earthly family.  He showed the need for other, deeper bonds:  “My mother and brethren are those who hear and do God's word.”  In ancient Near East society, children had no rights, but Jesus showed concern for them and even presented them as teachers:  “Unless you turn and become like children, you won't enter the kingdom.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest....” (Mt 18:3-4).
Read
  • 1 Pt 5:5b-14  Clothe yourselves with humility; humble yourselves under God's mighty hand.  Cast your worries on him; he cares for you.  Be sober and vigilant.  Resist the devil.  God who called you will restore and strengthen you.  Remain firm in God's grace.  Greet each other with a loving kiss.  Peace to you all!
  • Ps 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17  "For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord."  I'll proclaim your faithfulness.  The heavens proclaim your wonders and your faithfulness....
  • Mk 16:15-20  Jesus to the Eleven:  "Go proclaim the Gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.  These signs will accompany believers:  they'll drive out demons, speak new languages, pick up serpents, lay hands on and heal the sick...."  Then he was taken up into heaven and took his seat at God's right hand.  They preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them....
Reflect
    • Creighton:  Today is the feast day of St. Mark, author of the second Gospel.  He was young when Jesus was crucified and rose and probably never met Jesus in the flesh, but he was gifted and tasked with writing a Gospel directed to Gentile converts.  The 1st reading stresses the need for humility.  It must have been humbling to write a Gospel recounting Christ's humanity and divinity.  May we assess our strengths and take on tasks best suited to them to build God’s kingdom; humility is recognizing those strengths as God's gifts to be used for God’s purposes.
      St. Mark/ Theophilia
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Mark-eting the gospel":  "Signs like this" implies that Jesus will work more signs and marvels to confirm our proclamation of the gospel.  The Lord works with us as we witness to him and confirms the message through signs.  A sales rep would be delighted if the company president confirmed the client presentations.  We evangelists have an even greater confirmation service.  As the Lord backed up Mark's preaching, so will he confirm ours in our listeners' hearts....
    • Passionist:  Each of the four evangelists addresses a different audience and so has a different focus and emphasis in trying to respond to the needs of a specific community.  Mark's portrayal of the first disciples as incompetent, oblivious, impetuous, and arrogant is so human.  Matthew's parallel to today's “Jesus rebuked the disciples for their disbelief and hardness of heart” is “They worshipped him, but they also doubted”!  We are a human Church, but we revel in God's mercy through it all.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation":  All four gospels proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world; Mark's is the shortest and likely earliest, likely written in Rome, likely written for Gentiles, especially Rome Christians.  "The Spirit willed to choose for the writing of the Gospel two [Mark and Luke] who were not even from the Twelve, so it might not be thought that the grace of evangelization had come only to the apostles" (Augustine, Sermon 239.1).  Mark ends his account with Jesus' last appearance to the apostles before his ascension.  Jesus' departure and ascension were an end and a beginning for his disciples:  the end of  his physical presence with them, the beginning of his presence with them through the Spirit.  Jesus' last words to them point to their mission to be witnesses of his death and resurrection and to proclaim the good news.  God's love and salvation are for the whole world.  The gospel is God's power to forgive, heal, deliver, and to restore life.  All believers are to be heralds of the good news and ambassadors for Christ; the Lord works in and through us by the Spirit's power.
    • Universalis:  Mark, cousin of Barnabas, disciple of Peter, accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey then followed him to Rome, founded the Church in Alexandria.   His gospel is told from Peter’s point of view.  See also Wikipedia.
    Dress legend
    • Humble clothing:  "Clothe yourselves with humility" (1st reading)
    • 'Hand' pin:  "Humble yourselves under God's mighty hand" (1st reading); "Believers will lay hands on the sick, who will recover"; Jesus took his seat at God's right hand  (gospel)
    • 'Lion' pin:  "Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion" (1st reading)
    • 'Phone' tie bar:  "God who called you will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you..." (1st reading)
    • 'Peace sign" tie bar:  "Peace to all you who are in Christ." (1st reading)
    • 'Olympics' tie pin:  "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel" (gospel)
    • 'Signs' tie:  "These signs will accompany believers:..." (gospel)
    • 'Car' tie pin:  "They'll 'drive' out demons,..." (gospel)
    • 'Serpent' tie pin:  "They'll pick up serpents..." (gospel)
    • Red on tie:  liturgical color for St. Mark feast
    • White in shirt and socks:  Easter season