The Lenten journey has come now to an end. We have arrived in Jerusalem and have entered the very center of the reasons for Jesus’ criticisms and objections. Jesus now brings to bear all his strength and focus on God’s vision of the Kingdom. But, of course, he is arrested, tried, convicted, tortured and executed. That brings us to this weekend—Easter weekend. All four Gospels in the New Testament report what happened after Jesus was crucified. The report we will hear this weekend will be St. Mark’s report.
It is important to note that all four of the Gospels report the events after Jesus’ crucifixion a little differently, at a different angle as it were. Matthew’s report carries much joy; Luke’s seems more focused on disbelief; John’s gospel seems to reflect confusion and disbelief. Mark’s report uses words like “alarm,” “terror,” “dread,” and “afraid” in the verses that will be read this weekend. Biblical scholars and other people of faith have noted more than one “ending” to Mark’s gospel. There seems to be general agreement that verses 1-8 of chapter 16 were likely the original conclusion of Mark’s story. For many people this is a most unsatisfactory conclusion. At some time more concluding verses were added—verses 9-20. This weekend’s reading concludes with verse 8.
With this conclusion, we are told that the women who came to the tomb found it absent of Jesus’ corpus. Instead they saw a young man and, upon hearing his message, fled in fear and terror. And so the Gospel ends in fearful disciples and in silence. We who claim Christ as Lord and Savior know quite well that not only does the story not end, it goes on for 2000 years! Indeed, as you read this, it is still growing and going in God’s world. The Easter season lasts 50 days every year and the Church takes n the task of proclaiming the resurrection truth. We seek to offer the joy of new life; to dispel the fear those first disciples felt in Mark’s Gospel. We strive particularly to counter the disbelief and confusion found in Luke’s and John’s stories. We will spend the next 50 days focused on those things that are wrapped up in this amazing, life-giving mystery of God called the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
It is not our need to explain this mystery. We are called to proclaim it and witness to it. The struggles with proclamation and witness those first heralds encountered, we still encounter. Yet we are unfailing in our task an can only trust God to give the gift of faith.