Whatever the truth of all that, when we read the gospel of Mark some aspects stand out, that I would summarise as pouncing, proclaiming and praying...
For the most important thing for Mark is that this story be proclaimed - and not just proclaimed to those whom he knows, or even to all of humanity, but as it says in our gospel reading today, 'to all creation'. A much later Saint, St. Francis, took those words literally when he preached to the animals and the birds. And we too appreciate in our age that the good news of Christ is not just for the human creation, but for the whole of creation, down to the smallest atom and particle of all that is. For this is a story that proclaims the possibility of the redemption and resurrection of everyone and everything that has ever been or ever will be. No wonder Mark was anxious to ensure that this story got out. And we in our turn have a responsibility to proclaim this gospel. This is a BIG story! It is not just the story of you and me and our loved ones, or even of the Christian church down the centuries. This is the story of the liberation of everything, forever and of the possibility that the end of the created story of our universe is not the thing we can see - death, the death of everything and everyone, from butterflies to the furthest star - but after all, Life! And this is astonishing and worthy of our continued proclaiming.
Which leads me finally to praying. I don't know what Mark's prayer was for his gospel, but I would take a guess that he prayed that it would reach many people and change their lives. If so that prayer has definitely been answered. More than two billion Christians in the world today read the gospel of Mark on a regular basis. As the shortest of the gospels it is the one most frequently given to young Christians to read as they begin their faith journey. Its very existence is a testimony to the power of prayer and as we continue in our own day to read and pray with this text we are helped to encounter Jesus and the good news of resurrection for ourselves. So today, in celebration of St. Mark's day consider prayerfully reading the sixteen chapters of this gospel that have shaped our church and our world in a single sitting- it will take you about an hour. And let this text once again inspire you to pounce upon the events of Jesus life, and proclaim afresh the good news that answers all our prayers. Amen
by Penny Jones, for St Mark's festival 2016