It is believed that Mark was a disciple of St Peter. It means that what we will hear on Sundays this year is the preaching of the man whom Jesus called to leave the boat and follow him. However the image of Peter and the other disciples will not be sweet and cute. If you are used to the stories of the saints who even as babies fasted on Fridays and said their Rosaries before they started talking you need to brace yourself for a big shock. The disciples of the Lord in the Gospel of Mark are not supermen. So why did St Mark write such an account? Because he saw a new generation of Christians whose faith lost its vibrancy. Does it remind you anything? Could you detect similarity between the Christians from the time of St Mark and our own fellow Catholics?
How does it make you feel when you see your children or grandchildren indifferent to Christianity? How does it make you feel when your Catholic friends laugh off faith? Do you despair? St Mark did not despair. Instead he put together what he heard from his mentor: St Peter. St Mark believed that the Good News about Jesus Christ was the only remedy to the tepidness of his community. That’s why he didn’t polish it to make it pretty. He told us how the Son of God stepped into the ordinary, stinky life of the Galilean fishermen. That encounter was not a beauty treatment to turn Peter, Andrew, John and James into English gentlemen. However that encounter opened for them the space where ‘repentance and faith’ could happen. That space is the relationship to which Jesus has committed himself, the relationship he wants to have with us. The commitment of our Blessed Lord to this relationship was the guarantee that Peter, Andrew, John and James, and so many others, in spite of their shortcomings and their ‘lack of faith’, remained with Jesus.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The sixteen chapters of the Gospel of Mark however are not a consolation for our disappointment at what we can see around us. St Mark did not write the Gospel to make himself feel better. He wrote it because he wanted to invite his lukewarm fellow Christians to make the journey which those stinky Galilean fishermen did. It is the journey every generation of Christians will need to make too: the journey of repentance which is about centring our life on Jesus Christ and the journey of believing which is about building our life on Jesus. It is a journey where shortcomings and ‘lack of faith’ are daily experience. However that daily experience of ‘lack of faith’ is remedied by ‘our daily bread’ – Jesus Christ who said of himself ‘I am the bread of life.’
My Dear fellow believers! Before we are sent out, as it happens at the end of every Mass, let us learn from St Mark that what can trigger the process of ‘repentance and faith’ is not a lengthy argumentation but a brief account which is full of the story of Jesus Christ. As we immerse ourselves in the Gospel of Mark this year I pray we may become new evangelisers who believe that the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ is always fresh and new as it flows from the Blessed Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.