In Advent 2020, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing launched his Year of the Bible, a day-by-day delivery of a chapter from the Holy Bible that will see subscribers make their way through the story of salvation history as set out in Sacred Scripture over the course of 12 months. So far, there are over 12,000 subscribers. Want to join? Go to https://www.dioceseoflansing.org/byob or simply text BYOB to 84576.
Today, Saturday, March 20, 2021, sees Bishop Boyea introduce a new book of the Bible for subscribers to read: The Gospel of Saint Mark. Why has he chosen this book as part of his Year of the Bible? Here’s what he has to say:
Hello, I am Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing. For the rest of Lent until Easter Sunday (March 20-April 4, 2021), we will be reading the sixteen chapters of what we call St. Mark’s Gospel, though his name is not mentioned in the text. From an early tradition in the Church, this Mark was the same person as the John called Mark found in the Acts of the Apostles as a co-worker of Paul and in the First Letter of Peter as Peter’s colleague. This John Mark was a cousin of Barnabas and the son of an influential widow in Jerusalem. What is most fascinating is that very little of Mark’s own personality comes through in the Gospel unlike the other three Gospels. Mark, based on the sources he had, lets Jesus act and speak for himself.
This Gospel starts with John’s baptizing, Jesus’ baptism, and Jesus’ temptation in the desert. This starts his ministry. There is nothing about Jesus’ birth or youth. Chapters 1-6 report his ministry in Galilee and then in 6-8 in the broader area around Galilee. Chapters 8-10 see Jesus moving toward Jerusalem, where he exercises ministry (11-13), culminating in his death and resurrection (14-16).
You will not find the long speeches of Jesus found in the other Gospels. Rather, we will see Jesus demonstrating the power of God by his words and deeds. There seems to be a great focus on exorcisms and miracles, especially in the presence of crowds of people. Jesus, in Mark’s Gospel promotes the Kingdom of God as his mission and Mark emphasizes that Jesus is the Son of God who announces this great news.
Many early Fathers of the Church dismissed Mark’s Gospel saying it was just a clipping of parts of Matthew’s Gospel and because Mark was not an apostle. In fact, today it is held that Mark was written before Matthew probably in Rome about 70 AD. There he may have indeed heard and preserved many of the memories of St. Peter.
Jesus’ resurrection in Mark’s Gospel is a bit mystifying in its simplicity. That may explain why there are seemingly later additions to his text. So, let us enjoy encountering the bare bones, as it were, about Jesus as we read these sixteen chapters which will take us to Easter Sunday on April 4, 2021.