Today’s the Feast of St. Mark, the Evangelist. He was a disciple of Christ who, after the ascension, accompanied St. Peter in Rome as his secretary. St. Mark lived in Rome and wrote the Gospel of Mark for a Greek-speaking Roman, Christian, audience, probably to encourage them in the midst of persecution. That’s important to keep in mind when reading the first line of his Gospel:
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
While these words may not necessarily jump out at people, Father Robert Barron, in his Catholicism series, points out just how revolutionary those words were/are! The Greek word behind “good news” and “gospel” is euanggelion, a word used to refer to an imperial victory won by Caesar. St. Mark is proclaiming the true victory of Jesus Christ who was put to death under Caesar and now lives! The Roman Emperor is healed as “ the son of the gods,” but it is Jesus Christ who is the true Son of the Living God and God himself! Right at the outset St. Mark is making quite a bold statement, subversive even, in the eyes of Romans who worshiped their Emperor.
I think that the Gospel of Mark is a manifesto, a proud proclamation of the kingdom of God. On this Feast of St. Mark, I can’t help but to consider the similarities between his day and ours. Specifically, the current state of affairs in American society seems headed in a direction where citizens will have to choose between serving God and serving Caesar. It seems like we may be there already…