“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).
Yesterday was the Feast day of St. Mark, a close assistant and secretary to St. Peter. St. Mark, being learned was the first person to write down an account of the life of Christ which is known as The Gospel According to Mark. Matthew and Luke made reference to this account while composing theirs hence, the obvious similarities. The content of Mark’s account is what he heard St. Peter preach in the course of their missionary journeys.
Unlike St. Paul the scholar, St. Peter was not so learned, but he managed to compose three letters. Our first reading today comes from Peter’s first letter and there we find Peter addressing Mark as a son. It is often said that success without a successor is failure in disguise. Invest in the younger generation, become a mentor, a guide and teacher to others. You cannot do everything all alone.
Furthermore, St. Peter says: “Clothe yourselves, all of you with humility towards one another for God opposes the proud…” Without humility, Mark wouldn’t have been such a loyal assistant and son to St. Peter. As St. Peter says: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that in due time, he may exalt you.” Today, we are celebrating the exaltation of St. Mark.
St. Peter adds: “Cast your anxieties on God for he cares about you.” As we groan under this pandemic St. Peter’s words serve as a reminder to us that God still cares. In Fr. Reneiro Cantalamesa’s words: “What is the surest proof that the drink someone offers you is not poisoned? It is if that person drinks from the same cup before you do. This is what God has done: on the cross, he drank, in front of the whole world, the cup of pain down to its dregs. This is how he showed us it is not poisoned, but that there is a pearl at the bottom of this chalice.”
St. Peter also says: “Be on guard; be sober (opposite of drunkenness) and watchful. Stand up against the devil. Resist him, firm in your faith.” In other words, if we guard our spiritual lives, we can actually stand against and resist the devil. Indeed, we have no reason to be afraid of the devil.
Today, we read the concluding part of Mark’s Gospel which particularly emphasizes the fact that God worked with the Apostles confirming the message they preached with signs and wonders. Mark wrote this in connection with the miraculous cure of the lame man at the beautiful gate by Peter and John. If we obey Jesus’ mandate to “Go into all the world to preach the Gospel” we become instruments; tools in God’s hands for bringing healing, salvation and deliverance to the nations.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, use me like St. Mark to spread the Gospel. Amen. Bible Study: 1st Peter 5:5-14, Psalm 89 and Mark 16:15-20).