Today is the feast of St. Mark, known as the evangelist who wrote to proclaim the “good news” of Christ to the Gentiles, those beyond the Jewish communities who had experienced Jesus during his lifetime. In the gospel today we hear Mark pass on the post-resurrection mandate of Jesus who appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” (MK 16:15)
Peter, the one who loved Jesus so fiercely and knew himself to be loved in all of his foibles and missteps as well as his willingness to serve the mission, took up the charge. His urgency and energy can be heard in his letter quoted this morning, a letter that reflects his own experience as well as his relationship with Mark whom we celebrate today. Listen in to what he writes:
Beloved: Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another for “God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries on him because he cares for you…I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son. Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (1PT 5: 5-14)
Whether written by Peter himself or later by one of his disciples (this fact is disputed) the message is certainly consistent with Peter’s experience and desire for “the whole world” to know the love of Christ and the manner in which to follow what had been taught. The image I have is of a man on fire scribbling quickly on a parchment the most important things he wants to say so that Silvanus can carry it to a new and growing community of believers. Today I am grateful for these early figures who have left us such a rich treasury of teaching and I look within to catch that fire in my life.