And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name, they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18)
Today, we celebrate one of the great heroes of our Christian Faith. Mark was a personal assistant to the first Pope, St. Peter the Apostle and the Gospel he wrote was the content of what he heard Peter preach as they went from place to place in the mission of evangelization.
Peter even refers to Mark as a son as read in today’s first reading. Mark was not just an assistant but also, one who in all humility served the mission by applying his talents and gifts. Perhaps, Peter had him in mind when he wrote of the need for us to clothe ourselves with humility.
Indeed, one shining virtue we should all have is humility. Without it, we cannot learn from others and we cannot grow. We should never do anything to attract praise or exaltation to ourselves; let us allow God himself to exalt us.
It is believed that Mark was among the Seventy that Jesus sent out two by two to go into the surrounding countries in Luke 10: 1-20. And as Luke narrates, the seventy came back rejoicing and declaring how the evil spirits obeyed their bidding.
This is the same reality that Mark tries to convey in the concluding part of his Gospel passage which we read today. “And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by signs that attended it.” (Mark 16:20).
As we can see, miracles are signs that accompany and confirm the message, not the other way round. Jesus asked us to go and preach everywhere. He didn’t say go and work miracles everywhere. Today’s Christianity has turned things around: No one says, “Come and hear the word of God,” instead what you hear is “Come and receive your miracle.”
Any place where miracles are happening yet the word of God is not preached or given little attention and time, we must be on guard for native doctors, magicians, and occultists have taken over the miracle business.
All we are called to do is to preach. Let Jesus work the miracles according to His will. Mark says: “The Lord worked with them confirming the message by signs…” No one can lay claim to any miracle but Jesus is the only one who works miracles.
According to scripture scholars, Mark was the first person to have written a Gospel as early as 64 A.D. while Matthew and Luke copied from him thereby accounting for the deep similarities in the three Gospels.
Saint Mark’s journey with Saint Peter and Saint Barnabas is recorded in Acts as they travelled through Cyprus and Rome carrying the Word. Church writings accredit Saint Mark as founding the Church in Alexandria and consequently, serving as bishop there.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, may I also spread your word like Mark the Evangelist. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: 1 Peter 5:5-14, Ps. 89:2-3,6-7,16-17, Mark 16:15-20).*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu