We’re Reading Mark. Are You?
The centerpiece of any visit to Venice is the Basilica of St. Mark, situated on the beautiful square that bears its name. The symbol of the saint – a winged lion – appears everywhere.
A great part of our Catholic legacy is not only our religious architecture, but the structure of the Great Lectionary: the cycle of Scripture readings that spans three years of Sundays and two years of weekdays. In these readings, all of the important parts of the Bible are spread out for our nourishment. We are offered God’s Word, not according to the subjective choices of the preacher, but in a great “balanced meal” of the banquet of Old and New Testaments.
In our present cycle, we are focusing on the Gospel of Mark. This year, as the Church reads Mark’s Gospel, please read along as a part of your personal prayer life or join a small group*, which will meet the 5 weeks of Lent.
Let’s look at some background to the Gospel itself. The author Mark was a disciple of St. Peter, who was his primary source. Mark writes in 67 A.D., between the martyrdom of Peter and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the subsequent scattering of Jews and Christians alike. His audience is non-Jewish Christians living in Rome. Because of this, he pauses in his narrative to explain Jewish customs to his readers.
Mark’s is the shortest Gospel (16 chapters) and probably the first written. The title of the work is proclaimed in the opening sentence: The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He’s also a man in a hurry: he uses the word “immediately” more than 40 times!
Mark tells the story of Jesus as the narrative of a man who was very popular with his countrymen in Galilee; not so much with the religious leaders in the south (Judea). Jesus is usually portrayed acting or telling parables, although there are two lengthy sermons. The human person of Jesus shines through the narrative: we see him experiencing pity, anger, triumph, sympathy, surprise, admiration, sadness, and indignation.
The flow of Mark’s Gospel is partly geographical: Galilee (chapters 1:14–9:49), through the area across the Jordan and through Jericho (10), to Jerusalem (11-16).
The basic outline, with chapters and verses:
Public Ministry: 1:16-8:30
Resurrection epilogue: 16:1-20
Your edition of the Bible will break up the Gospel into smaller, titled sense sections. Read a section a day to make your personal journey through the magnificent Gospel of Mark.
*to join or form a small group, email firstname.lastname@example.org.