LISTENING TO MARK PART THREE
1 The Ministry in and around Galilee (1:14 to 8:26) Pages 1 to 7
2 The Journey to Jerusalem (11 to 13) Pages 7 to 14
3 The Passion (14 to 15) Pages 15 to 21
With Chapter 14, the passion narrative begins. In some ways, it is the beginning of the end. In Mark’s usual way of inserting stories within stories, the priests and scribes seek to kill Jesus, a woman anoints his body for burial, Judas seeks to betray him. This last part of the Gospel gathers up the major themes of the Gospel into a great drama that grows with intensity. There are frequent time notices given, the days preceding Passover, the watches of the night in which Jesus is betrayed, the hours of the day he died. Time is marked in smaller units and events reported in great detail as the drama builds in intensity and significance.
This is then, a continuous narrative with a coherent chronological sequence. This movement is linear. It goes from the upper room to the garden to the betrayal, on to Jewish trial and Peter’s denial to the Roman trial and condemnation, to crucifixion, death and burial. Along the way, Jesus is betrayed by Judas, let down by the inner three in the garden, abandoned by all the disciples, and on the cross seemingly abandoned by God. Three times he is mocked: at the Jewish trail, at the Roman trial, and on the cross. Only the women stand by him throughout, though at a distance. They witness his death “from afar”. They see the place where he is buried, and go to anoint him when the sabbath has past.
Until now, the Gospel has been made up almost entirely of small independent pieces loosely strung together. It will be different now. Jesus has almost always been in the company of his disciples. Now he is isolated and goes to his death alone. The fact that Jesus is without his companions, goes to his death alone, dramatically establishes the uniqueness of his way to the cross, and demonstrates that the disciple is never above or equal to his master but can only follow him in “cross bearing” at a distance. The structure is basically the same in all four Gospels with much less adaptation than the earlier parts of Mark’s Gospel. What is unique in the Gospel is that Mark does not dwell on the personal suffering or the wounds of Jesus. Instead, these two chapters emphasize interpretations of this death and its implication for being a follower in the world dominated by the brutal power of the Roman-Jerusalem alliance of elite men. Even though we can be fairly sure that there was some earlier record of the events from which they all wrote their Passion accounts, we must keep in mind that this is not biographical, and it is not history. The motive here was to uphold the innocence of Jesus and that his death was, contrary to all appearances, according to the will of God.
As I said, many themes come together here: the rejection of Jesus by his enemies, the failure of his friends, and the unfolding revelation of his true identity and mission. His prophecies are fulfilled: He is rejected, mocked and killed by the authorities, betrayed by Judas, and denied by Peter. As Son of Man he gives his life as a “ransom” for many. Remember that the word, “ransom” does not mean a tradeoff. Jesus is not doing something so that we don’t have to. He does this for the sake of us (to show us how) not to excuse us. Throughout Jesus is still the teacher. He teaches that his inevitable death means suffering for his followers in the difficult times until his return in power. The direction of this drama moves to a climax and seems to be complete, with a stone rolled against the door of a tomb to mark the end. The burial, however, is not the end; it is just a void form which bursts a new beginning.
It’s as though there is silence at that point, but by Chapter 16, the first eight verses break the silence. The resurrection reverses the tragedy, vindicates the suffering Son of Man as Christ and Son of God, and makes the story become “Good News” (Gospel). At this point, the original Gospel ends to be completed in the lives of its readers. Some early readers, we suspect, knowing how the story came out in the mission of the apostolic church, felt compelled to round off the abrupt end. Two different endings were written, the longer of which appears and verse 9 through 20. With that summary, let’s look at these last chapters which are really not an end, but a beginning for us.
In the first verses, we get an example of how Mark inserts stories within stories. As the chapter opens, Mark reports the conspiracy in just 2 verses, then he tells of the anointing at Bethany for 9 verses, finally he returns to the conspiracy. This time it is Judas. What we get is two parts of a conspiracy, one from authorities and the other from within the disciples, Judas. While their opposition is different, Mark uses the same language as they are both “looking for a way.” There is great concern with this conspiracy. There is fear of a riot because the town is full of pilgrims and Jesus is popular. The feast itself carried a subversive narrative concerning freedom for a subjugated people from a dominant ruling power. The leaders, in league with the Romans gambled on being able to contain the people power that the festival recalled. The Romans had no problem showing their military power intimidating locals and bolstering the morale of the elite. The time reference in the first verse adds to the suspense all building now toward the crucifixion. For Mark this adds a theological dimension by relating the death of Jesus to the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened bread.
In Mark’s usual way, we get a story within a story. The narration of the capture gets interrupted by another story. We should note that in Mark’s telling of the anointing, the woman is not identified nor is she called, “sinful.” She is simply, “a woman.” As Mark unfolds his account, the shame of it all is upon the men. The praiseworthy character is a woman. Her “alabaster jar of nard” was a globular vase made of alabaster and containing an oil extracted from the nard plant native to India. It very aromatic and very costly. The value Mark assigns to this ointment is equivalent to the annual wage of a day laborer. There is a very clear contrast here that carries through to the end. Men murder, women comfort. Hatred is contrasted to love. Judas receives money for a betrayal. She spends money for his anointing. They are at Bethany which is at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Ironically, the Mount of Olives is to be the place Zechariah announced would be the site for the return of the Son of Man. The setting is the home of a leper! In that culture, men ate alone. She breaks the taboo by crashing the party, so to speak!
There is an interesting contrast here between this woman and the person in the next episode, Judas. This unnamed woman gives up money for Jesus and enters the house to honor him. A man with a name, Judas gives up Jesus for money and leaves the house to betray him. Mark has us move from one meal to another; from the house of Simon in Bethany to another meal in Jerusalem. This section begins with another “time stamp.” It is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and preparations for the Feast make up the first of three elements here. The second is the prediction of betrayal while at the supper. The third is the covenant meal itself.
With this “time stamp” it is almost as though we have a countdown. Mark follows the Passover events from Exodus rather than Leviticus or Numbers which also record the events of Passover, but slightly differently. Mark, following Exodus calls this the day they sacrificed the lamb (14 Nisan) “The First Day of Unleavened Bread.” The point of indicating the time is to draw attention to the fact that Jesus died during the Jewish feast of liberation. The Passover was a celebration of Liberation much like the Fourth of July marks our independence or freedom from England. Mark insists that the last meal Jesus ate was Passover, the commemoration of God’s deliverance from bondage. The whole description in Mark affirms the Jewish heritage of Jesus and his followers. They were doing it right.
Finding a place for the supper is significant. It is possible that Jesus had made these arrangements ahead of time, but far more likely, this is Mark’s way of showing that God orders this event. With morning preparations complete, there is a shift in time and place. Mark tells us that it is now evening (Thursday = Nisan 15), so Passover has begun, and they are at supper. The focus now sifts to the “the Twelve”, and there are two incidents at the supper. The first has to do with the betrayer. The second focuses on Jesus and his relationship to the disciples, and by his action and words Jesus interprets his impending death and points to the coming of the Kingdom. The verse, “I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” We cannot miss the verbs: took, blessed, broke, gave. Already by Mark’s time, these words were shaping the action of the Eucharist. The word, “Cup” is used by Mark, not “wine” with symbolic significance. This use shows up three times in the Gospel. 1) when James and John seek first places, 2) at Gethsemane, and 3) here at the supper. In all three texts, God gives the cup which is the cup of death related to the blood of the covenant. When at table Jesus speaks of MY blood, he is establishing a new covenant. There is here, an interruption of the normal ritual of this meal. When Jesus speaks these words, they are not the “right” words, and this departure from the tradition surely got the attention of the disciples. There is something new happening here.
They leave the Passover singing – usually Psalm 118 which begins: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,” and at the end comes these words: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” So, they go much as they came in, but with a note of victory and the glory to come.
They leave Jerusalem for the Mount of Olives where three events occur. 1) The prediction of abandonment, 2) Peter’s denial, 3) the arrest. The drama narrows to the three leading disciples on the one hand and Jesus on the other. Peter makes his brave promise to share in the death of Jesus. Clearly, he has not listened nor understood what is to come. The repeated warnings to be watchful and awake have fallen on deaf ears. He falls asleep. It is interesting to note that when Jesus rebukes Peter, he does not use his new name, Peter. He calls him by the name of his old life, “Simon.” The three Jesus has taken with him, Peter, James and John, were there for the raising of a dead girl, the transfiguration, and teaching on the Mount of Olives. Jesus instructs them to stay awake, using the same verb as in the parable of the absent and unexpectedly returning master. Three appears three times. Being awake, or watchful or vigilant, will be a key quality for followers in the absence of Jesus. They fail.
As Mark tells the story, Jesus has no martyr complex. It is a contest between human will and the will of the Father. It is the will of Jesus that the cup pass. He does not want to be put to the test. He wants some other way to fulfill God’s purpose for him. This is a dramatic and powerful struggle. With great distress and anxiety, Mark tells us that Jesus “Threw himself on the ground.” This is a terrifying scene. Jesus is utterly alone. Yet, he refuses to abandon the will of the God, and the die is cast, and he says: “Enough.” It is over.
Several key terms give this passage some power. WATCH, HOUR, CUP, PRAY. All of these terms get deeper and more powerful significance than they have on the surface. Then, “Suddenly,” Mark says the betrayer is at hand, and the action shifts from a lonely struggle to a mob scene which includes a crowd sent by the religious authorities, Judas, Jesus, the whole group of disciples, and mysterious young man. For Mark Jesus behaves with fearless human dignity. His courage and words are in stark contrast with the behavior of others in the scene. He stands as a model for the church when under persecution.
The kiss from Judas is more than a common greeting. He calls Jesus, “Rabbi” thereby indicating that he is a disciple. No disciple would ever kiss the Rabbi. It is an insulting break of tradition. There is no respectful friendship here. There is a break in their relationship. Insult is followed by violence. A disciple standing by strikes off the ear of the high priest’s slave with a sword. Mark does not name Peter as the disciple. Only John’s Gospel does so. In this Gospel, Mark shows us how useless and ineffective violence is. What’s really important is that the disciples fled the scene. The anonymous “young man” darts into the action long enough to leave his clothes behind and run off naked. Who is this? Why is this reported? Since the earliest times and the oldest commentators, there have been every sort of guess imaginable. The answer is: We don’t know.
Mark’s style and his way of telling a story with another story inside is at its best here. The trial scene is set within the account of Peter’s denial so that each story interrupts the other. It is a mistake to call this a “trial,” at least with our ideas of justice. This is misleading. Imperial dynamics do not permit a “fair trial.” Jesus is a Galilean peasant in their eyes, aman of low status against the local powers. What happens before the highest council of Judaism, the Sanhedrin is not a “trial”. There is a presumption of guilt. The procedure is strictly followed as set by the book of Numbers and Deuteronomy. This why there must be two witnesses. Of course, the whole thing is irregular because the verdict is predetermined and the evidence is false. However, in their eyes, he is guilty. He did speak blasphemy, and he did mix politics with religion which is treason. There are two charges against Jesus: He claimed he would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days; and he claimed to be the Christ, the Son of God.
At no point in this Gospel does Jesus claim that he would destroy the Temple, or that in three days he would build another. In spite of this, those mocking Jesus on the cross refer to this false claim. The silence of Jesus to this first charge increases the tension in which the high priest puts the second crucial question: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Even though Peter and demons have said it was so, Jesus has never claimed either title for himself. Now, with the drama of the Passion underway with no longer any possibility for the crowd to misunderstand the meaning of his claim, Jesus answers: “I am.” At this point in the drama, there should be a thunder clap or a roll of the drums. He said; “I AM.” This is what Moses heard at the burning bush. This is a claim to the Divine Identity, and it seals his fate. It is a moment of courage, something said at the cost of his condemnation. This is blasphemous. What’s more, the whole expectation for a Messiah is thrown into question now. How could this Galilean possibly be a Messiah? This is not what they expected, and they refused the plan of God. He and his idea are condemned. They will not have it or have him.
Immediately Mark switches the story to Peter and his denial. By doing so, he contrasts the behavior of Jesus when accused and that of Peter. Jesus shows courage. Peter shows cowardice. Jesus is upstairs questioned by the High Priest. Peter is downstairs questioned by a servant of the High Priest. Jesus confesses his identity and future role that will bring down the status quo. Peter denies knowing Jesus. For the persecuted community to whom Mark is first writing, there is a message. Jesus loses his life through steadfast witness ultimately saving his life. Peter tries to save his life but loses it by avoiding the way of the cross and being ashamed of Jesus. None the less, he wept. Is it over an opportunity lost, or is it the beginning of repentance leading to a hope reborn?
Another Chapter and another “trial” begins. The power of the Chief Priests, Elders, and Scribes, those, so-called-authorities is really not power at all, so they turn to Roman and Pilate. Mark tells us that they “handed him over” to Pilate using the same words Jesus used in his prediction of what would happen. What is revealed here is a very dangerous social alliance between the occupied and the occupiers. There is an alliance of power here determined to keep things as they are. There is to be no change especially if it costs them their power and privilege. It is misleading to see Pilate as a weak and spineless character who is the victim of Jewish pressure and forced against his will to crucify Jesus whom he thinks is “innocent.” Rome did not appoint weak and spineless governors. He is wise and astute here balancing several factors. He knows that if his allies see Jesus as a threat he must also be a threat to Pilate. Yet, he can’t give in to their demands instantly or he looks weak. Instead, he conducts a poll manipulating the crowd making them beg for crucifixion. He makes them dependent upon him elevating his power.
The same pattern is used before Pilate: interrogation, condemnation, mockery. By setting up both trials, the rejection of Jesus is complete, both by religious authorities and now by civil authorities. To these two, Marks adds a third; the crowd, because Mark is interested in drawing the Civil Authorities into complicity so that both Jews and Gentiles are implicated. Now it is the fourth watch of the night, Mark tells us. Evening, midnight, cockcrow, and morning marks the passing of time in watches.
The question asked by Pilate, “Are you the King of the Jews?” is identical in all four Gospels. This is a shift from the question of the High Priest who asks if he is the Messiah. Pilate wants to know if this is a political or civil threat. The response of Jesus: “You say so” leaves Pilate shaking his head. From that moment on, Jesus is silent and it amazes Pilate. A sub plot emerges with this trial over Barabbas. Only in Mark does the crowd take the initiative to ask for Barabbas. There is no historical evidence for this practice of releasing a prisoner at Passover. However, with this story, Mark depicts this miscarriage of justice in a way which, ironically, reveals the supreme truth about Jesus. Though sinless, he dies that sinners may live.
Roman governors needed one skill above all others: the ability to keep crowds quiet or under control. Pilate is good at it. When he asks if the crowd wants the King of the Jews released, he tricks the crowd into being the judge, and he looks like their benefactor when he says, “Release FOR you.” It’s also a referendum on their loyalty to Rome. If they said otherwise, they would be in big trouble. Pilate stacked the deck. So, the phrase comes again: “They led him away.” The Roman custom of whipping the condemned is fulfilled which also the prediction of Jesus and the fulfillment of what is said in Isaiah 50:6. “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” To tie all these things together, Mark once again says: “They handed him over.” The second mockery occurs – now it’s the Gentile Roman Soldiers. A third is yet to come. Jesus goes to death as the King of the Jews.
There is something wild about this scene showing rival authorities fighting for power. The chief priest, elders and scribes have religious authority which they can exercise only by manipulating a Roman Governor and an excitable crowd. Pilate possess all the real authority. The crowd is manipulated by the chief priest, elders, and the scribes. In the middle of this stands one quiet figure who claims no authority but shows it with quiet dignity. We, like Mark, are left to see the real king and real authority. The fundamental issue here is the true nature of authority. In contrast to authority imposed from above, this is authority that comes from obedience to the will of God. The real authority we see is not someone bossing people around or telling them what to do, but Jesus exercises authority by service, through love, thereby revealing in revolutionary terms the way the ultimate Power of the universe works.
The regal image of the King is developed very carefully in the details Mark gives us. Historical records of victorious kings returning from battle confirm the theological theme at this point in the Passion. Soldiers are present. The reference to the Praetorium or “Governor’s” headquarters evokes the Praetorian guard in triumphal processions. Jesus wears a purple robe. Historian Josephus reports that Vespasian and his son Titus were clothed in purple, and that color was worn by people of high status. Jesus wears a crown. Jesus receives derisive honor from the soldiers who hail him as the King of the Jews, and they kneel before Him.
Everything in Marks Gospel builds toward one event told in only 21 verses, and the crucifixion in only four words without dwelling on the bodily suffering and violence of this crucifixion. A condemned person was ordinarily forced to carry one’s own cross-beam. Jesus was either not able to carry it after the whipping or refused to carry it in defiance of “customary expectations.” It was not out of the ordinary for the soldiers to requisition someone to do their work. So, Simon of Cyrene is pressed into service, perhaps unwillingly. Again, the details are few but full of meaning. Crucifixions were carried out in public areas. It was a billboard announcing Rome’s dominance. Jesus refuses “wine mixed with myrrh” offered to him. Perhaps this is a pain dulling mixture, but may also be in fidelity to his declaration that he will not drink wine until he drinks it new in the Kingdom of God.
All through this scene, there are treads of Psalm 22, a Psalm of Lament. These Psalms typically involve three groups of characters. The first party, the psalmist, seeks to be faithful to God’s purposes in difficult circumstances through which he suffers and cries out to God for help. Then, there is a second group made up of enemies who oppose this faithful person and cause considerable suffering though hostility and unjust actions. The third character is God. From the outset, the psalmist laments or complains that God is inactive and powerless, even absent, in the midst of suffering. Then toward the end of the psalm the psalmist experiences God’s deliverance and praises God. In Psalm 22 the suffering involves physical injury, social hostility, life is in danger, bones are out of joint, dry mouth, and clothing taken and divided by lots. He complains that God has forsaken him, is distant, and does not respond to his cries. I think it is important here to remember that this is not an historical report, but a theological interpretation of the death of Christ.
The inscription put on the cross is a reminder to anyone passing by that threats to Roman power will not end well. He is crucified with two others who threatened the Roman order. “Bandit” can also mean “rebel.” “Insurrectionist” means a terrorist. This scene of Jesus crucified with rebels on his left and right recalls the previous conversation between Jesus and John and James. They sought places of honor at the right and left of Jesus. In response to them, Jesus challenged them about sharing in his death. Ironically, they are absent. The drama is excited by time notices again. It was the third hour (9:00am). Then there was darkness from the sixth hour (Noon) until the ninth hour (3:00pm). The three hours of darkness at midday is not just a dramatic pause, but an allusion from the prophet Amos (8:9). Mark gives this whole scene a strong Roman slant stressing the fact that Gentiles finally kill him, yet a Gentile is the first after his death to recognize and proclaim a Son of God.
Themes from Mark’s whole Gospel come together here: the hostility of the religious authorities, the failure of his disciples through misunderstanding, betrayal, denial, and flight. Not a single disciple is present. Mark’s principal theme comes into focus now: Jesus Christ is King. Tried and mocked as King of the Jews, mocked as King of Israel, Jesus in Mark’s Gospel is the Messiah, King and Son of God. Women are looking on from afar doing what disciples should do, but do not.
The death of Jesus is an important mark in order to make the Resurrection so powerful. Darkness at the death of an important person was a common literary motif for mourning. Two other signs have attracted a great deal of discussion: a torn Temple Veil and a centurion’s declaration at the cross, “Truly this man was God’s Son.”
There were two curtains in the Temple; an inner curtain separated the holy of holies from the rest of the Temple and tan outer curtain separating the Temple from the forecourt. It is not clear which one is referred to, and it probably does not matter. Some might like to interpret this as a judgement on the Temple or as the opening of access to God. The verb is in the passive “was torn” in the sense that God did the tearing. That passive voice verb was used at the Baptism of Jesus as God revealed the identity of His Son. The second sign of the centurion’s confession is the first time a human has said this. Before it was only the demons. Yet, perhaps this is a sarcastic yet ironic sneer about the crucified Jesus. Its tone is derisive. It is impossible to decide which this is. Both interpretations have value. Regardless of what the centurion meant, believers know. Rome is now given a secondary importance.
There is no avoiding or missing the point that Jesus dies abandoned by men. Mark provides a dramatic reversal by suddenly telling us that a group of women followers were present, looking on from a distance. Three are named, but it is a sizeable group. Their loyalty or their courageous presence is tempered by Mark who shows us that they “followed at a distance”. This is the same word Mark used to describe Peter’s following “at a distance.” The text suggests that these women kept vigil at the cross all day from the time of crucifixion at nine o’clock in the morning, through the noon-time darkness and his death around three in the afternoon and on to the evening removal of Jesus from the cross and his entombment which is guided by a man named, Joseph. The timing on the evening of day of Preparation before the Sabbath is noted. Joseph is introduced by his place of origin, Arimathea in Samaria. This suggests a family tomb close to Jerusalem, a family of some means. There is a sense of haste about this scene. The body is not washed or anointed, tasks women normally performed for the dead.
Mark would have us understand very clearly: Jesus died. If he died, then he was buried. He was buried in a certain place on a certain day by a certain person or persons. It was the Preparation Day at sun down, Friday. “A respected member of the council who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God” is named “Joseph of Arimathea.” He is not called a disciple. They are gone. Joseph does what they should do, looking for and waiting. He is not passive in this wait however, he took courage and went to Pilate asking for the body. To verify that Jesus really died, there is the conversation between Pilate and the Centurion. The primary detail for Mark is the sealing of the tomb with a large stone. This is important as controversies arise before the end of the first century lasting into the fourth century. He died. He identified with us in our death. His incarnation was so real that he was buried. There is no part of us that he has not assumed for by the grace of God he tasted death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9)
Often times, an ending is not the end, and that’s the case with the Gospel. In Mark a dead man rises from the tomb, and the Gospel ends in the middle of a sentence! In Chapter 16 the women find the stone rolled away when they come to anoint the body. A young man dressed in white is sitting on the right side, a place of honor. He tells them not to be alarmed, that Jesus has been raised, and that they should go and tell Peter and the disciples that Jesus has gone ahead of them to Galilee where they will see him. The use of the passive voice is important. It suggests divine action has intervened to raise Jesus. Then with these words the Gospel of Mark ends: “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.”
Through all of this Gospel Mark has been preparing us for the triumphant victory over death, just as Jesus was preparing his disciples. But there is a sense in which no one could be prepared for the resurrection. The resurrection is not the awakening of a corpse. It is God’s decisive intervention in time and history by which human existence is radically and forever transformed. The resurrection is the final stage in God’s mighty act of deliverance freeing humanity from sin and restoring communion with Him. The silence Jesus has imposed all through the Gospel of Mark is now reversed. Yet, the response is silence.
It is totally reasonable to ask and wonder why the Gospel could end like this. All through this Gospel Mark has portrayed misunderstanding, fear, failure and flight on the part of chosen disciples. Everything he has reported overturns all human ways of thinking. Now, with the last verse, Mark has finally brought us right into the center of the story. Now we are face to face with the announcement of victory over death leaving us to decide how we must respond.
The longer ending accepted as inspired by the Holy Spirit did not appear until the late second century. The author seems to have been familiar with all four Gospels drawing from Matthew, Luke, and John. What is consistent in the story is that the Lord takes the initiative in appearing to people. They do not just “find” him. Significantly the first person to whom he appears is a woman out of whom he had driven seven demons, someone who might seem the least reliable. Furthermore, His risen body is such that he is not recognized until he makes himself known. As always before, Jesus reprimands the disciples when he finally appears to them, but that does not invalidate their commission. Slow to believe they are to proclaim the gospel to every creature. No longer just the chosen people, but all the world. Belief is not enough however, an action is required, being Baptized, an action of God by which a believer is united with Jesus in his death and resurrection and incorporated into the church.
Mark knows that we are well aware of how the story unfolds and goes on. Peter and the disciples see the risen Lord, and their encounter with him becomes the bedrock of the apostolic proclamation of the Gospel that spread throughout the Roman Empire. This is not because the women succeeded in following their commission, but by the power of God who is able to overcome every human failure. We are living with Mark’s Gospel in times that call for a new Evangelization bringing this Good News not only to mission lands but to the secularized post-Christian cultures all around us. We must allow ourselves to be filled with the same enthusiasm, joy, hope, and courage that followed Pentecost. Mark shows us that every word of Jesus is reliable, and we are all invited to accept in faith the testimony of his resurrection. The story has no end because it continues in the life of every disciple of Jesus for all time.
Unlike Mark’s Gospel that seems to have no ending, this talk does. I leave it with you now with the hope that the Holy Spirit will bring this Good News to life within you first for your own renewal in faith and then for the continual renewal of our Church which sometimes seems so afraid of the future, so timid, so ashamed of its failures as was Peter. We cannot look backward and pretend that earlier days and ways were better. If we do, we are like those women who were so afraid of what it might mean to live with and in the presence and power of God.