Tuesday, May 5, 2009 – Mark – “I Am”Who do people say that I am? And who do you say that I am? Jesus asks us this question through his story in the Gospel of Mark. How do we respond? What do we do that demonstrates to the world that we believe Jesus to be the Christ, theexpression of God’s love to us and to the world?
From the Biblia de América: Jesus is admired for his alliance with the dispossessed, for his message of love, and for his opposition to all that oppresses freedom. This description of Jesus, the person, has its limitation on Calvary where the story ends in death and scandal. A few witnesses remain at the foot of the cross to hear the most important words of his message: that we are all invited to take up our own cross to follow where Jesus goes . . . to resurrection, ascension, and restoration. This is the only road on which we find our true identity, both human and divine. If we cannot accept this truth, we cannot accept Jesus as God’s word. And if we cannot accept God’s expression to us, we cannot accept ourselves, we cannot believe that we are made in God’s image, we cannot bear God’s love into the world. We look for quick pleasure, we dwindle, we die . . . for eternity. The Gospel of Mark is an invitation to understand the authentic face of Jesus – and ourselves – along the path that leads to the cross . . . and to the resurrection.
The central and dominant theme of this Gospel is the identity of Jesus. In this story, many people are interested in the answer to this question, Herod, the high priest, Satan and his demons, Pilate, and the Roman official. It is this last witness who answers the question of Christ’s identity in Mark 15:39: Truly this is the son of God.
We might wonder about the many times Jesus asks that his followers to not yet reveal who he truly is (1:34, 3:12, 5:43, 7:36, 8:26-30, 9:9). Commentary tells us that it is a Marcan technique to delay solving the mystery of who Jesus is by postponing the acknowledgement of his identity until the crucial moment at the foot of the cross. Jesus is found, after all, by each of us as we move through our spiritual development of faith versus doubt, hope versus desperation, and love versus indifference. In this Gospel, we see the questioning opening, the arduous search, the final comprehension as steps in our growth and movement toward God. The true seeker never tires of asking Jesus: Who are you? And to this question, Jesus in turn asks us . . . Who do you say that I am? As Jesus’ disciples we take up the search for this answer. It characterizes all that we are and all that we do. Our manner of interaction with all creation is our answer. It is the answer we carry back to the creator. Our behavior indicates what we expect from God: fidelity or abandonment, courage or cowardice, mercy or revenge. When we hit the hard portions of our life journey, how do we behave? With constancy, fortitude and compassion? With anger, deceit and envy? In Mark, we see these pathways clearly marked as divergent and incompatible.
When there is time, spend a quiet afternoon with this Gospel, the shortest of the four. It opens, runs and ends like a flash, much like the meteoric life of the Christ himself. The vivacity and realism we find here quickly penetrate us when we shut out the world to dwell in the story of the Christ for an hour. After allowing Mark to seep into our bones, we will find these questions becoming part of who we are: Who do people say that I am? Jesus, who do you say that I am?
And we will want to answer the Christ: I am one of your disciples.
LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.