“So they [the women] went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”. (Mark 16:8a)
If you are following the 2019 Year of Scripture Daily Reading Schedule,
you should be finishing the Gospel of Mark.
At our Fall Gatherings, I have been inviting us to consider that Jesus commissions His followers to be a “Sent Church”, and not a “Settled Church”. Think about the difference between being “sent” and being “settled”. Are there places in the life of your parish where the Holy Spirit is stirring things up and sending folks out? Or are things mainly staid and settled? And how might we make the shift from “settled” to “sent”? Over the next few weeks, I want to explore how each of the Evangelists (Gospel writers) depicts the charge of the church after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
The Gospel of Mark ends rather abruptly. In the earliest manuscripts, the Gospel of Mark ends at 16:8a “So they [the women] went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”. This is not the best way to end the greatest story in the world! What might Mark be up to here?
Think about it, Jesus is rejected by the religious leaders, crucified by the Romans, abandoned by his disciples, and now the first witnesses flee in fear and tell no one that the one who was crucified, now lives. Well, they must have told someone, since the truth of the Gospel has been proclaimed and shared throughout the world.
I wonder if Mark abruptly closes his Gospel with an “unspoken charge”? The women who went to the empty tomb responded with terror, amazement, and silence. Perhaps Mark is asking his readers a pointed question: what will your response be? Will you keep silent or will you “Go into the world and proclaim the good news to all creation?” (Mark 16:15)
Some questions to consider
- Do the folks who encounter you on a daily basis know that you are a follower of Jesus? If you were hauled into a court of law, and accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict?
- When your parish serves those in need (food pantry, clothing distribution, community meal), how do you help them make the connection that you are serving because of Jesus?
- In what ways does your parish witness to the truth that the one who is crucified now lives?