April 25, 2017

Mark

April 25, 2017:  St. Mark, Evangelist

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For Psalm 89
Pope Francis
Monday homily:  In the 1st reading, Peter and John had healed a crippled man, and the doctors of the Law didn't know what to do. Peter and John answered them with simplicity, and when they were ordered not to speak about what happened, Peter responded, “We can't remain silent about what we've seen and heard!”  See the concreteness of the faith in contrast to the position of the law doctors who wanted to compromise:  Peter and John had the courage and frankness of the Spirit; they spoke the truth openly, without compromise.
We can forget our faith is concrete:  the Word was made flesh, not an idea.  Our Creed is concrete too:  "I believe in God the Father, who made heaven and earth;  I believe in Jesus Christ who was born, who died"; it doesn't say I have to do this or that, or that some things are for these ends.  The concreteness of the faith leads to frankness, to bearing witness even to the point of martyrdom.
For the law doctors, the Word was made law, not flesh:  you must do this up to this point, and no further.  So they were imprisoned in rationalism.  Even the Church has fallen into a theology of "yes, you can; no, you can’t," forgetting the Spirit's strength and liberty that gives you liberty, frankness in proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord.
Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born from above, born of the Spirit.  Ask the Lord for this experience of the Spirit who comes and goes and bears us onward, who gives us the anointing of the concreteness of the faith.  Those born of the Spirit hear and follow the Spirit's voice without knowing where it'll end; they've chosen the concreteness of the faith and rebirth of the Spirit.  May the Lord help us along the Spirit's path without compromise, without rigidity, with the liberty of proclaiming Jesus as the One who has come in the flesh.
Today's homily:  Jesus gave his disciples a mission:  to proclaim the gospel to all.  The gospel is always proclaimed on a journey.  We Christians need to go out where Jesus is not known, or where he's persecuted or disfigured, to proclaim the true gospel.  In going out there's life.  Preachers aren't safe; there are no insurance policies for them.  If you seek an insurance policy, you're not a true preacher; you stay put, safe.  So go out!  The gospel always goes forth on a journey:  physical, spiritual, of suffering.  Proclaiming the gospel leads to wounded people who offer their sufferings for the Church, for Christians, but they always go out of themselves.
Peter, Mark’s teacher, was clear:  the gospel must be announced in humility, because Jesus humbled himself, annihilated himself.  Proclaiming the gospel is no carnival.  The gospel can't be proclaimed with human power, with the spirit of climbing.  We're called to vest ourselves with humility, one towards another.  Humility is necessary because we proclaim humiliation, glory through humility.  When we proclaim the gospel, we're tempted:  to power, pride, or worldliness; to preach a watered-down gospel, one without strength, without Christ crucified and risen.  Peter says, "Be vigilant; your enemy the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion....  Resist him, steadfast in faith...."
If we say we're proclaiming the Gospel but we're not tempted, the devil isn't worried, because we're preaching something useless.  When we're suffering, the Lord is there to restore and strengthen us, as Jesus promised when he sent the apostles.  He'll give us strength to go forward; he works with us if we're faithful to proclaiming of the Gospel, if we go out of ourselves to preach Christ crucified, and if we do it with humility.  Lord, grant us this grace, to take the path of evangelization with humility, with confidence in You, and announce the gospel:  "God's Word is come in the flesh."  It's folly, a scandal, but when we do it understanding the Lord is at our side, he works with us and confirms our work. 
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....
    • Creighton:  Tradition identifies “Mark, my son” with Mark the Evangelist.  Ironically, the gospel for today's feast is taken from the “longer ending” (vv. 19-20) which many believe Mark didn't write.  (Whoever did borrowed inspiring pieces from other Gospels:  Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and two others, commissions the Eleven, and ascends.)  In today's gospel, Jesus sends his friends, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel.....”  And so they did.  Since then, people all over have spread Jesus' message, not always with words:  they've “clothed themselves with humility”; their actions have shown they love because they've experienced great love.  Lord, work in and through us so that our lives become Good News to those we encounter.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "On your Mark, get set, go":  (John) Mark was a dropout, driven by fear not faith.  He left Paul's first missionary journey.  Paul didn't let him join the second, but Barnabas and Peter took him under their wings.  He was transformed; he wrote the earliest gospel, a major resource for missionary journeys of all times.  The Lord chose him not because of his greatness, talent, or holiness but rather for the reason Mary Magdalene was chosen to be the first resurrection-witness, Stephen the first martyr, Paul the first missionary, and Peter the first pope:  he fell in love with Jesus and had been transformed.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Go and preach the gospel to all 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).  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, 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)
    • 'Hands' 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); symbol of Mark the Evangelist and of Jesus' resurrection
    • 'Peace sign" tie bar:  "Peace to all you who are in Christ." (1st reading)
    • 'International stamps' tie:  "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel" (gospel)
    • 'Sign' pin:  "These signs will accompany believers:..." (gospel)
    • 'Phone' tie bar:  God 'called' you to his glory... (1st reading)
    • 'Car' tie pin:  "Believers will 'drive' out demons,..." (gospel)
    • 'Serpent' tie pin:  "...pick up serpents..." (gospel)
    • Red on tie:  Liturgical color for St. Mark feast
    • White in shirt and socks:  Easter season