Monday, April 9, 2012 — Monday in Easter Week
Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 959)
Psalms 93, 98 (morning) // 66 (evening)
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Mark’s gospel ends with the women seeing a young man dressed in a white robe, who tells them Jesus has been raised and will meet them in Galilee. The last verse of Mark’s gospel (16:8), as we have it in the oldest and most authoritative sources, is this: “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
After that sentence, most Bibles have lots of footnotes and extra paragraphs — “The Shorter Ending of Mark, The Longer Ending of Mark.”
I think the ending at verse eight makes complete sense when it is read in the context of Mark’s entire gospel. Throughout the story, Mark has emphasized Jesus’ suffering, not Jesus’ glory. The disciples have been confused and baffled throughout, never quite understanding the significance of what they are experiencing.
It is likely that Mark writes to a congregation Mark that is struggling, maybe facing some form of conflict or persecution. The tone of his entire gospel matches that situation — a tone of unknowing and fear. And yet, the story is one of triumph through suffering. That is Mark’s message to them. They too will triumph through suffering, like Jesus. They know the glorious stories of their heroes, the apostles. Those heroes are no different than they are — simple human beings with fears and confusion. Yet we know them as our heroes and models. We know they persevered and triumphed. So can you,
Subsequent redactors were uncomfortable with this ending and tried to paste on some other texts. Some scholars opine that the original ending may have been lost. One theory says that John 21 is the original ending for Mark.
Part of our inheritance is a rich tapestry of stories about the appearances of Jesus following his death. Those appearances continue, as Paul lists, to his experience more than a decade after Jesus’ crucifixion, “as to one untimely born” he says of himself.
Those appearances continue to this day. Many of us have seen or felt or heard or touched the presence of the Risen Christ who has appeared to us and been known by us. His living continues. And we are invited to follow in Paul’s tradition, to work “harder than any of them” to continue the mission and presence of Jesus, who has taught us how to live the abundant life of love, courage and compassion.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!