Sunday, April 27, 2014
Feast of Mark trumped (but I'll still preach about him): Friday of the Octave of Easter
Most years, April 25th is the celebration of the feast of St. Mark. This is a rare instance in which Mark’s day is replaced by the Octave of Easter, though I don’t think he minds. While we will not be celebrating St. Mark’s feast today I would still like to focus on his Gospel account.
Mark’s story has been called a passion narrative with an introduction. It is the shortest of the four Gospels and its tone suggests, “Let’s get to the point!” The words and phrases he uses encourage the focus on the main event—Jesus’ crucifixion.
For instance, the word for immediately is used all the time (and more often than Matthew, Luke and John combined). “Immediately Jesus…after the healing, immediately they…he immediately…” This suggests to the reader a hurried pace as Mark focuses on the climax of his Gospel.
Mark also employs on the road/way several times, again more frequently than the other Gospels. In so doing he uses a literary device to show how Jesus is always on the way to his Father’s will on Calvary.
Finally, there is a struggle throughout his Gospel between Jesus’ divinity and the crowds’ desire to make him a king. Jesus frequently orders that no one tell about a work he did to avoid becoming an earthly king. Scholars have labeled this the Marcan secret. This, too, comes to a head when the Roman centurion declared, “Truly, this man was the son of God!” after Jesus’ death.
Mark’s account is well worth the read and it could be completed in one sitting. Its tone, vocabulary and structure all point to Jesus’ crucifixion and what we celebrate in the Easter Octave is Jesus’ triumph over sin and death which led him to the cross.