When Mark opened his Gospel with the phrases, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he was telling us the title of all the work: The “beginning of the gospel” applies to Mark 1:1 to 16:eight. Mark’s final verse challenges the reader to take up the duty of constant the work that Jesus started.
According to Mark, the final a part of this most necessary story in historical past begins with a small group of ladies taking over an unimaginable job. They had been carrying spices to anoint a physique they did not count on to have the option to see or contact. But that is solely a small element on this symbol-laden narrative. Mark’s Gospel often appears quite simple and direct, however he fills this narrative with symbolic concepts and gestures in order that we will hear the story time and again, every time understanding it extra deeply.
Mark writes that as they arrived at Jesus’ tomb, the key concern of the ladies who had witnessed Jesus’ loss of life was the humongous stone that walled his physique off from the land of the residing. The solely phrases we hear from them query who may transfer that boulder.
From the way in which Mark narrates the story, evidently the ladies had been speaking to each other close to the sealed tomb once they appeared up and found that the stone had been rolled again as if from the within. The place of loss of life had been damaged open, and terrifying because it was, they went in and encountered a messenger who advised them that Jesus the crucified had been raised and couldn’t be discovered within the realm of loss of life. The messenger then commissioned them to ship Jesus’ disciples to Galilee the place they’d see him as he had advised them.
This is the place the Easter Sunday Gospel stops. It ends a lot as Mark ended his Gospel, by telling the disciples to return to the place all of it started and retrace their journey of discipleship, this time a bit of higher ready to understand what it was all about.
More than another evangelist, Mark is conscious of the frailty of the disciples. He is aware of that they’re thickheaded and sluggish of coronary heart and that it takes multiple imaginative and prescient for them to come to lively perception — that is why he advised two tales of Jesus therapeutic a blind individual and sandwiched Jesus’ three predictions of his ardour in between them. It’s not a easy factor to permit Jesus to open our eyes.
That stone that involved the ladies, the barrier between them and Jesus, turned out not to be what they thought. The undeniable fact that they had been going to anoint him indicated that they’d accepted his loss of life; the truth that they anticipated the stone to block their method indicated that they did not understand it.
The stone that sealed the tomb signified absolutely the finality of loss of life, the top of relationship and the burial of hope. It was the image of the tragedy of mortality and the ladies who had stood by as Jesus was executed had confronted and accepted it. They had executed greater than their male companions who had modified the topic when Jesus spoke of his loss of life and fled when he confronted it.
Like most Christians, the ladies took the subsequent step with out understanding what it meant. They went into the tomb. With that step, they went past witnessing Jesus’ loss of life. Now, they had been symbolically taking part in it.
That step made good on their sharing of the cup with him on the Last Supper, however they nonetheless did not know it. The world had been turned the wrong way up, nothing meant what it had earlier than, they usually had been justifiably terrified.
God’s messenger within the tomb advised the ladies to announce that Jesus had been raised to the disciples. They had been to inform the disciples to begin yet again in order that they may understand that the whole lot Jesus did was, as Mark mentioned within the first verse of his Gospel, just the start.
The girls’s entry into the tomb, like our baptism into the loss of life of Jesus, was step one in a lifelong course of. Paul’s letter to the Colossians reminds us that by means of baptism we’ve died and risen with Christ and that brings us into a brand new realm of existence. But this isn’t magic. It requires a protracted strategy of going again to the start and understanding time and again who Christ is and what it means to be his disciple.
Easter Sunday is the start of a 50-day interval of celebration and meditation on the Christian thriller. Today, we’re invited to journey with these devoted girls who had been prepared to try an unimaginable closing act of affection, solely to uncover that nothing was because it had appeared. This is the start, not the top.
[Mary M. McGlone, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, is writing the history of the St. Joseph sisters in the U.S.]
Editor’s observe: This Sunday scripture commentary seems in full in NCR’s sister publication Celebration, a worship and homiletic useful resource. Request a pattern problem at CelebrationPublications.org. Sign up to obtain e-mail newsletters each time Spiritual Reflections is posted.