MARK 4:1-20

THE MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS BEEN GRANTED TO YOU. Saint Mark introduces his account of our Lord's life with a brief and significant opening comment: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." The significance of this seemingly simple and obvious statement is that Mark is the only one of the four evangelists who presents his work as the Evangelion, that is, the Gospel, the Good News that is to be proclaimed before the world. This whole work is intended to announce a message of joy sent from God Himself to each of us.

The additional point he makes is implied not explicitly framed. When, by an inner sympathy with the tone and spirit of Mark the attentive reader of his Gospel will understand that there is a more profound dimension to his account, namely, that he identifies the Gospel he records with the very person of Jesus. Mark intends his readers to realize that Jesus himself, the Son who is man as well as God, IS the Gospel; his life and teaching are such that his person is present, living and still active in this Gospel.

In this regard Mark presents his writing in the same way Paul, writing earlier, had presented his version of the Gospel. For Paul, salvation is loving knowledge of the glorified Christ from whom he had received the Gospel. Paul sums up his message in a letter to the Corinthians, describing his preaching as "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4) Mark also presents Jesus, a few years after Paul as saying "Whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it (8:35)." To suffer for the gospel is to suffer for Christ; the two are here identified. Thus in accepting and living by the words of our Lord and the account of his life we welcome Jesus himself into our soul; thus, our way of responding to the teaching of Jesus whether in words or in his actions is personalized. Both Mark and Saint Paul write with this perspective.

This is the great truth we proclaim and give thanks for at this Eucharist today. We enter into an intimate personal union with our Lord and Savior Jesus by receiving with faith and trust in his words. In this same liturgy we are given an increment of life through receiving his living, glorified body and blood with desire and grateful love.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger