Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wednesday word, 25 Apr 2007

St. Mark, Evangelist (25 Apr 2007) 1Pt 5. 5b-14; Ps 89; Mk 16. 15-20
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Strong and Gentle

The final verses of Mark’s gospel resume several facets of the first Christians: baptism; spiritual utterance and prophecy; protection from harm; healing by laying hands by believers; Jesus’ ascension and sitting in glory at the right hand of God. All these are bookended by risen Jesus’ command to evangelize everywhere and fulfillment of his command by his disciples.

We are here because of their evangelizing. Mark was the first evangelist who wrote what we honor as gospel. Mark’s gospel is unique because at every turn it has us encounter the mystery which Jesus embodied. It relentlessly confronts us with the mystery who is a person, the mystery which takes hold of us before we are aware of it; the mystery which shapes our lives.

This mystery, our crucified and risen Messiah is a commanding presence and a compassionate, concerned, loving friend at the same time. Our Messiah is always both, never one or the other.

Commanding presence only and God would remain distant. Loving friend only and Jesus would not be Messiah. Both together call for faith: our trust to do the gospel with our lives, trusting that we are saved by it as we do it.

Peter, whose long-held association with Mark assured Mark’s apostolic witness, described what faith did: faith resisted temptation and suffering. An early call not to intellectualize or even spiritual-ize faith but to employ it in standing against whatever would seek to move us outside of Jesus’ circle.

Mark’s symbol is the lion. In pop culture lions are strong and gentle at the same time. To be a disciple of our risen Messiah Jesus is to resist strongly what seduces us away from living his gospel and to treat gently all people. For Jesus’ gentle respect of us restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us. To evangelize, after all, continues Jesus’ work which he does in us.
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