It’s fascinating to think about how we know what we know about the life of Jesus from those who lived in the first century CE (Christian Era), because all four were written long after the sojourn of Jesus on earth. I’m thinking about this because in the biographical information about Mark, who wrote the first and shortest of the four gospels and upon whom the authors of Matthew and Luke are said to have depended in their own writings, we find only this to situate him: (? – c. April 25, 68) Only his death date is noted.
Mark was not one of the twelve apostles but must have either known Jesus personally (evidence is not clear) or been very deeply touched by the stories about Jesus from those who did have personal experiences of him. I think about a group of people sitting around a campfire, remembering Jesus, having been inspired by him and sharing the stories that prompted them to give their lives to the search to know this Jesus the Christ more deeply.
I think about my own growth in faith and the stories that I love about Jesus. They are mostly the stories like the healings, especially of young people whose parents were bereft and upon whom Jesus took pity, or of Mary Magdalene whom Jesus loved. When he saw her in the garden weeping over his death, he needed only to say her name for her to know he was alive. Compassion is the basis of the stories I love, stories of the care of Jesus for others, like the feeding of the five thousand or of his friends on the beach after his resurrection…
My gratitude for the memories of those who shared stories and then wrote the gospels (community memories, to be sure) reminds me that we, too, have stories to tell – of family, community and our own personal lives that are worthy of sharing in hopes that what is of value will be kept in love for those who come after us.