Sunday, March 25, 2018
The Passion and Death of Jesus according to Mark
The final defeat as a new call
Mark 14:1 - 15:47
1. Opening prayer
Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.
Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.
2. A reading of the Passion and Death of Jesus according to Mark
a) A key to the reading:
Generally, when we read the story of the passion and death, we look at Jesus and the suffering He had to endure. But it is worthwhile, at least once, to also look at the disciples and see how they reacted to the cross and how the cross impacted on their lives, for the cross is a measure for comparison!
Mark writes for the communities of the 70’s. Many of these communities, whether in Italy or Syria, were going through their own passion. They were faced with the cross in many ways. They had been persecuted at the time of Nero in the 60’s and many had died, devoured by wild beasts. Others had betrayed, denied or abandoned their faith in Jesus, like Peter, Judas and other disciples. Others asked themselves: “Can I bear persecution?” Others were tired after persevering through many trials without any results. Among those who had abandoned their faith, some asked themselves whether it was possible to rejoin the community. They wanted to start their journey again, but did not know if it was possible to rejoin. A cut branch has no roots! They all needed new and strong reasons to restart their journey. They were in need of a renewed experience of the love of God, one that surpassed their human errors. Where could they find this?
For them, as for us, the answer is in chapters 14 to 16 of Mark’s Gospel, which describe the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, the time of the greatest defeat of the disciples and, in a hidden way, their greatest hope. Let us look into the mirror of these chapters to see how the disciples reacted to the Cross and how Jesus reacts to the infidelity and weaknesses of the disciples. Let us try to discover how Mark encourages the faith of the community and how he describes the one who is truly a disciple of Jesus.
b) Looking into the mirror of the Passion to know how to be a faithful disciple
* Mark 14:1-9: Introduction to the story of the passion and death of Jesus
The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were to take place in two days' time. So the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way to arrest him by treachery and put him to death. They said, "Not during the festival, for fear that there may be a riot among the people."When he was in Bethany reclining at table in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head. There were some who were indignant. "Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than three hundred days' wages and the money given to the poor." They were infuriated with her. Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them, but you will not always have me. She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."
Mark 14:1-2: The conspiracy against Jesus.
At the end of His missionary activity, Jesus goes to Jerusalem and is expected by those who hold power: the Priests, Elders, Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians and Romans. They control the situation.... they will not allow Jesus, a carpenter from the interior of Galilee, to provoke disorder. They had already decided to put Jesus to death (Mk 11:18; 12:12). Jesus was a condemned man. Now, what He himself had foretold to His disciples will happen: “The Son of Man is destined to be put to death” (cf. Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33). This is the background to the story of the passion that follows.
The story of the passion will show that the true disciple who accepts to follow Jesus, the Messiah Servant, and who accepts to dedicate his or her life to the service of his or her brothers and sisters, must take up the cross and follow Jesus. If the story of the passion emphasizes defeat and failure, this is not so as to discourage the readers. On the contrary, it is rather to stress that the welcoming and loving of Jesus is stronger than the defeat and failure of the disciples!
Mark 14:3-9: A faithful disciple.
A woman, whose name is not mentioned, anoints Jesus with an expensive perfume (Mk 14:3). The disciples criticize this gesture. They think it is a waste (Mk 14:4-5). But Jesus defends her: “Why are you upsetting her? What she has done for Me is a good work… she has anointed My body beforehand for its burial” (Mk 14:6.8). In those days, those who died crucified were neither buried nor could they be embalmed. Knowing this, the woman anticipates and anoints the body of Jesus before His sentence and crucifixion. This gesture shows that she accepts Jesus as the Messiah Servant who will die on the cross. Jesus understands the gesture of the woman and approves of it. Earlier, Peter had rejected the idea of a Crucified Messiah (Mk 8:32). This anonymous woman is the faithful disciple, model for His disciples who had understood nothing. This model is for all, “throughout all the world” (Mk 14:9).
* Mark 14:10-31: The disciples’ attitude towards the Cross
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them. When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money. Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?" He sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?" 'Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there. "The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he came with the Twelve. And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me. "They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one, "Surely it is not I?" He said to them, "One of the Twelve, the one who dips with me into the dish. For the Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born. "While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God. "Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be dispersed. But after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee. "Peter said to him,"Even though all should have their faith shaken, mine will not be. "Then Jesus said to him, "Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times. "But he vehemently replied," Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you." And they all spoke similarly.
Mark 14:10-11. Judas decides to betray Jesus.
In complete contrast with the woman, Judas, one of the twelve, decides to betray Jesus and conspires with the enemies who promise him money. Judas goes on living with Jesus, with the sole objective of finding an occasion to hand Jesus over. When Mark was writing his Gospel, there were disciples who were waiting for the right moment to leave the community that was the cause of their persecution. Or, perhaps, they were waiting for the moment to draw some advantage by handing over their companions.
Mark 14:12-16. Preparation for the Paschal Supper.
Jesus knows that He will be betrayed. But, in spite of the betrayal by a friend, He lives the Paschal Supper in a fraternal atmosphere with His disciples. He must have spent a lot of money for the hall, “the large upper room furnished with couches” (Mk 14:15), because this was the eve of Passover. The city was full of people because of the feast. It was difficult to find and reserve a place.
Mark 14:17-21. The announcement of Judas’ betrayal.
Together for the last time, Jesus announces that one of His disciples will betray Him, “one of you eating with me!” (Mk 14:18). This manner of speaking by Mark emphasizes the contrast. For Jews, eating together, the sharing of the table, was the greatest expression of intimacy and trust. Thus, in three lines, Mark conveys the following message to his readers: the betrayal will take place at the hands of a close friend, but the love of Jesus is greater than the betrayal!
Mark 14:22-25. The Eucharist, the celebration of the Paschal Supper.
During the celebration, Jesus shares something. He shares bread and wine, an expression of the giving of himself and invites His friends to take His body and His blood. The Evangelist places this gesture of giving (Mk 14:22-25) between the announcement of the betrayal (Mk 14:17-21) and the flight and the denial (Mk 14:26-31). Thus, he emphasizes the contrast between the gesture of Jesus and that of the disciples, he brings out for the community of his time and for all of us the immense gratuitousness of the love of Jesus that overcomes the betrayal, the denial and the flight of His friends.
Mark 14:26-28. The announcement of the flight of all.
After supper, as He was on His way with the disciples to the mount of Olives, Jesus announces that they would all abandon Him. They will flee and disperse! But even then He says: “After My resurrection I shall go before you into Galilee!” (Mk 14:28) They fall away from Jesus, but Jesus does not fall away from them. He goes on waiting for them in the same place, in Galilee, where three years before He had first called them. The certainty of the presence of Jesus in the life of a disciple is stronger than abandonment or flight! It is always possible to come back.
Mark 14:29-31. The announcement of Peter’s denial.
Simon, called Cephas (rock), is anything but rock. He already had been “a stumbling block” (Mt 16:23) and Satan for Jesus (Mk 8:33), and now he pretends to be the most faithful disciple of all. “Even if all fall away, I will not!” (Mk 14:29). But Jesus says: Peter, you will be the first to deny Me, even before the cockcrow!
* Mark 14:32-52: The attitude of the disciples in the Garden of Olives
Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples,"Sit here while I pray."He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be troubled and distressed. Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch. "He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will. "When he returned he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. "Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing. Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open and did not know what to answer him. He returned a third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. See, my betrayer is at hand. "Then, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, "The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely. "He came and immediately went over to him and said, "Rabbi." And he kissed him. At this they laid hands on him and arrested him. One of the bystanders drew his sword, struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his ear. Jesus said to them in reply, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs, to seize me? Day after day I was with you teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me; but that the Scriptures may be fulfilled. "And they all left him and fled. Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.
Mark 14:32-42. The attitude of the disciples during Jesus’ agony.
In the Garden, Jesus begins His agony and asks Peter, James and John to pray for Him. He is sad and begins to be afraid, He seeks the support of His friends. But they fall asleep. They are not able to watch an hour with Him. And this three times! Again, we see an immense contrast between the attitude of Jesus and that of the three disciples! It is here in the Garden and at the time of the agony of Jesus that the courage of the disciples disintegrates. It is also a sign that the disciples didn’t fully understand what was to happen.
Mark 14:43-52. The attitude of the disciples when Jesus was arrested
When night fell, the soldiers led by Judas come. The kiss, a sign of friendship and love, becomes the sign of betrayal. Judas lacks the courage to face his betrayal. He hides it! During His arrest, Jesus stays calm, master of the situation. He tries to read the meaning of what is happening: “This is to fulfill the scriptures!” (Mk 14:49) But all the disciples left Him and fled (Mk 14:50). No one stayed. Jesus was alone!
* Mark 14:53-15,20: The trial: different conflicting views of the Messiah.
They led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. Peter followed him at a distance into the high priest's courtyard and was seated with the guards, warming himself at the fire. The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none. Many gave false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. Some took the stand and testified falsely against him, alleging, "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another not made with hands.'"Even so their testimony did not agree. The high priest rose before the assembly and questioned Jesus, saying, "Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?"But he was silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him and said to him,"Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed One?"Then Jesus answered, "I am; and 'you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.'"At that the high priest tore his garments and said,"What further need have we of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?"They all condemned him as deserving to die. Some began to spit on him. They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, "Prophesy!"And the guards greeted him with blows. While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the high priest's maids came along. Seeing Peter warming himself, she looked intently at him and said,"You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus."But he denied it saying,"I neither know nor understand what you are talking about."So he went out into the outer court. Then the cock crowed. The maid saw him and began again to say to the bystanders,"This man is one of them."Once again he denied it. A little later the bystanders said to Peter once more,"Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean."He began to curse and to swear,"I do not know this man about whom you are talking."And immediately a cock crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him,"Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times."He broke down and wept. As soon as morning came, the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him,"Are you the king of the Jews?"He said to him in reply, "You say so."The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him,"Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of."Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them one prisoner whom they requested. A man called Barabbas was then in prison along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion. The crowd came forward and began to ask him to do for them as he was accustomed. Pilate answered,"Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?"For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate again said to them in reply,"Then what do you want me to do with the man you call the king of the Jews?"They shouted again, "Crucify him."Pilate said to them, "Why? What evil has he done?"They only shouted the louder, "Crucify him."So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified. The soldiers led him away inside the palace, that is, the praetorian, and assembled the whole cohort. They clothed him in purple and, weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him. They began to salute him with, All Hail, King of the Jews!"and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him. They knelt before him in homage. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him out to crucify him.
Mark 14:53-65. Jesus is condemned by the Supreme Court
Jesus is led before the court of the High Priests, of the Elders and the Scribes, called the Sanhedrin. False accusations were made against Him. He keeps quiet. Without any defense, He is handed over to His enemies. He thus fulfills what Isaiah said about the Servant Messiah, who was taken prisoner, judged and condemned like a lamb He never opened His mouth (cf. Is 53:6-8). When interrogated, Jesus accepts the fact that He is the Messiah: “I am!”, but He accepts this under the title of Son of Man (Mk 14:62). Finally He is slapped by people who laugh at Him calling Him Messiah Prophet (Mk 14:65).
Mark 14:66-72. Peter’s denial.
Peter is recognized by a servant girl as one of those who was in the Garden. Peter denies this. He denies this swearing and cursing. Not even this time is he capable of accepting Jesus as Messiah Servant who gives His life for others. But when the cock crows for the second time, he remembers the words of Jesus and begins to cry. This is what happens to those who are close to people but whose head is lost in the ideology of the Herodians and the Pharisees. This was probably the situation of many in the communities of the time when Mark was writing his Gospel.
Mark 15:1-20. Jesus is sentenced by the Roman powers
The trial goes on. Jesus is handed over to the Roman powers and accused of being Messiah King (Mk 15:2; cf. Mk 15:26). Others suggest the alternative of Barabbas, “in prison with the rebels” (Mk 15:7). They see Jesus as an anti-Roman Warring Messiah. After He is sentenced, they spit on Jesus, but He will not open His mouth. Here again we see the Messiah Servant announced by Isaiah (cf Is 50:6-8).
* Mark 15:21-39: Before the Cross of Jesus on Calvary
They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. They brought him to the place of Golgotha— which is translated Place of the Skull —They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it. Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews. "With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left. Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,"Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross."Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said,"He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe."Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him. At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Some of the bystanders who heard it said, "Look, he is calling Elijah." One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink saying, "Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down." Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"
Mark 15:21-22. Simon carries the cross
As Jesus was being led to the place of crucifixion, Simon of Cyrene, the father of a family, was forced to carry the Cross. Simon is the ideal disciple who walks along the way that Jesus walks. He literally carries the cross behind Jesus up to Calvary.
Mark 15:23-32. The crucifixion.
Jesus is crucified as one marginalized, between two thieves. Again, the Gospel of Mark recalls the image of the Messiah Servant, of whom Isaiah says: “He was given a grave with the wicked” (Is 53:9). The crime ascribed to Him is “King of the Jews!” (Mk 15:25) The religious authorities ridicule and insult Jesus and say: “come down from the cross now, for us to see and believe!” (Mk 15:32). They are like Peter. They would accept Christ as Messiah if He came down from the cross. As the hymn says: “They wanted a great king who would be strong, dominating, and for this they did not believe in Him and killed the Savior”.
Mark 15:33-39. Jesus’ death.
Abandoned by everyone, Jesus lets out a great cry and dies. The centurion, a pagan, who was keeping guard, makes a solemn profession of faith: “In truth this man was Son of God!” A pagan discovers and accepts what the disciples were not able to discover and accept, that is to see the presence of the Son of God in this tortured, excluded and crucified human being. Like the anonymous woman at the beginning of these two chapters (Mk 14:3-9), so at the end there appears another model disciple, the centurion, a pagan!
* Mark 15:40-47: At the sepulcher of Jesus
There were also women looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome. These women had followed him when he was in Galilee and ministered to him. There were also many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem. When it was already evening, since it was the day of preparation, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a distinguished member of the council, who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God, came and courageously went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was amazed that he was already dead. He summoned the centurion and asked him if Jesus had already died. And when he learned of it from the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down, wrapped him in the linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses watched where he was laid.
Mark 15:40-47. The burial of Jesus
A group of women watch from a distance: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome. They do not run away. They remain faithful to the end. They witness the death of Jesus. It is from this little group that the new announcement on Easter Sunday will come. They go with Joseph of Arimathea who has asked permission to bury Jesus. After that, two of them, Magdalene and Mary, stay near the closed sepulcher. They also witness the burial of Jesus.
c) The final failure as a new call to be disciple
This is the story of the passion and death of Jesus seen from the point of view of the disciples. The frequency with which this story speaks of the incomprehension and failure of the disciples, most probably corresponds to a historical fact. But the main interest of the Evangelist is not to tell that which took place in the past, rather he wants to provoke a conversion in the Christians of his time and to arouse in them and us a new hope, capable of overcoming discouragement and death. There are three things that stand out and need to be considered deeply:
i) The failure of those chosen: The twelve who were specially called and chosen by Jesus (Mk 3:13-19) and sent in mission by Him (Mk 16:7-13), fail. Judas betrays, Peter denies, all run away, no one stays. Total dispersion! Seemingly, there is not much difference between them and the authorities who decree the death of Jesus. Like Peter, they too want to eliminate the cross and want a glorious Messiah, king, blessed son of God. But there is one deep and real difference! The disciples, in spite of all their faults and weaknesses, hold no malice. They do not have any evil intention. They are an almost faithful replica of all of us who walk the way of Jesus, falling all the time but always getting up again!
ii) Fidelity of those not chosen: As a counterpoint to the failure of some, the strength of faith of others is presented, those who were not part of the chosen twelve: 1. An anonymous woman from Bethany. She accepted Jesus as Messiah Servant and, thus, she anoints Him in anticipation of His burial. Jesus praises her. She is a model for all. 2. Simon of Cyrene, father of a family. He is forced by the soldiers to do that which Jesus had asked of the twelve who ran away. He carries the cross behind Jesus to Calvary. 3. The centurion, a pagan. At the moment of death, he makes his profession of faith and recognizes the Son of God in the tortured and crucified man, one cursed according to Jewish law. 4. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome, “and many other women were there who had come up to Jerusalem with Him” (Mk 15:41). They did not abandon Jesus, but determinedly stayed at the foot of the cross and close to the tomb of Jesus. 5. Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, who risked everything by asking for the body of Jesus to bury Him. The twelve failed. The continuation of the message of the Kingdom did not pass through them, but through others, particularly the women, who will be given a clear order to go call back those failed men (Mk 16:7).
iii) The attitude of Jesus: The manner in which the Gospel of Mark presents the attitude of Jesus during the telling of the passion is meant to give hope even to the most discouraged and failed of the disciples! Because no matter how great the betrayal of the Twelve was, the love of Jesus was always greater! When Jesus announces that the disciples will run away, He already tells them that He will wait for them in Galilee. Even though He knew of the betrayal (Mk 14:18), the denial (Mk 14:30), the flight (Mk 14:27), He goes on with the gesture of the Eucharist. And on the morning of Easter, the angel, through the women, sends a message to Peter who had denied Him, and to all the others who had fled, that they must go to Galilee. The place where everything had begun is the place where everything will begin again. The failure of the twelve does not bring about a break in the covenant signed and sealed in the blood of Jesus.
d) The model of the disciple: Follow, Service, Go up
Mark emphasizes the presence of the women who follow and serve Jesus from the time He was in Galilee and who go up to Jerusalem with Him (Mk 15:40-41). Mark uses three verbs to define the relationship of the women with Jesus: Follow! Serve! Go up! They "followed and looked after" Jesus and together with many other women “went up with Him to Jerusalem" (Mk 15:41). These are the three words that define an ideal disciple. They are the models for the other disciples who had fled!
* Follow describes the call of Jesus and the decision to follow Him (Mk 1:18). This decision implies leaving everything and running the risk of being killed (Mk 8:34; 10:28).
* Serve says that they are true disciples, for service is the characteristic of the disciple and of Jesus himself (Mk 10:42-45).
* Go up says that they are qualified witnesses of the death and resurrection of Jesus, because as disciples they will go with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem (Acts 13:31).
Having witnessed the resurrection of Jesus, they will also witness to what they have seen and experienced. It is the experience of our baptism. "So, by our baptism into His death we were buried with Him, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glorious power, we too should begin living a new life" (Rm 6:4). Through baptism, we all share in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
3. An aid to reflection
i) What would you have done were you present? Would you have acted like the men or the women?
ii) What touched you most in the attitude of Jesus concerning His disciples in the narration of His passion and death? Why?
iii) What is the special message of the narration of the passion and death in Mark’s Gospel? Have you worked out the differences between the narration of the passion and death in the Gospel of Mark and that in the other Gospels? What are these differences?
4. Prayer of a Psalm: Psalm 22 (21)
The Psalm that Jesus prayed on the Cross
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
The words of My groaning do nothing to save Me.
My God, I call by day but You do not answer, at night,
but I find no respite.
Yet You, the Holy One,
who make Your home in the praises of Israel,
in You our ancestors put their trust,
they trusted and You set them free.
To You they called for help and were delivered;
in You they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm, less than human,
scorn of mankind, contempt of the people;
all who see Me jeer at Me,
they sneer and wag their heads,
'He trusted himself to Yahweh,
let Yahweh set him free!
Let Him deliver him,
as He took such delight in him.'
It was You who drew Me from the womb
and soothed Me on My mother's breast.
On You was I cast from My birth,
from the womb I have belonged to You.
Do not hold aloof,
for trouble is upon Me,
and no one to help Me!
Many bulls are encircling Me,
wild bulls of Bashan closing in on Me.
Lions ravening and roaring open their jaws at Me.
My strength is trickling away,
My bones are all disjointed,
My heart has turned to wax,
melting inside Me.
My mouth is dry as earthenware,
My tongue sticks to My jaw.
You lay Me down in the dust of death.
A pack of dogs surrounds Me,
a gang of villains closing in on Me
as if to hack off My hands and My feet.
I can count every one of My bones,
while they look on and gloat;
they divide My garments among them
and cast lots for My clothing.
Yahweh, do not hold aloof!
My strength, come quickly to My help,
rescue My soul from the sword,
the one life I have from the grasp of the dog!
Save Me from the lion's mouth,
My poor life from the wild bulls' horns!
I shall proclaim Your name to My brothers,
praise You in full assembly:
'You who fear Yahweh, praise Him!
All the race of Jacob, honor Him!
Revere Him, all the race of Israel!'
For He has not despised
nor disregarded the poverty of the poor,
has not turned away His face,
but has listened to the cry for help.
Of You is My praise in the thronged assembly,
I will perform My vows before all who fear Him.
The poor will eat and be filled,
those who seek Yahweh will praise Him,
'May Your heart live for ever.'
The whole wide world will remember
and return to Yahweh,
all the families of nations bow down before Him.
For to Yahweh,
ruler of the nations,
belongs kingly power!
All who prosper on earth will bow before Him,
all who go down to the dust will do reverence before Him.
And those who are dead,
their descendants will serve Him,
will proclaim His name to generations
still to come;
and these will tell of His saving justice
to a people yet unborn: He has fulfilled it.
5. Final Prayer
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May Your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which Your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, Your mother, not only listen to but also practice the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.