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Archive for April 25th, 2018

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, You have enriched Your Church with the proclamation of the Gospel through the evangelist Mark.  Grant that we may firmly believe these glad tidings and daily walk according to Your Word;  through Jesus Christ, our Lord,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings: Isaiah 52: 7-10 Psalm 146  2 Timothy 4: 4-18  St. Mark 16: 14-20

Bio:  St. Mark was the author of the second Gospel, which he composed, according to some Early Church Fathers, when the Christians in Rome asked him to write down the preaching of the apostle Peter. Mark, also known as John Mark, was originally from Jerusalem, where the house of his mother Mary was the center of the early Jerusalem Church (Acts12:12). He was brought from Jerusalem by Paul and Barnabas to Antioch (Acts 12:25), and it was from this city that they set out on the first missionary journey. When Paul and Barnabas were preparing to go on the second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them again, but Paul objected because Mark had left them during the first journey. Barnabas took Mark and went to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas as his new companion (Acts 15:37-40). Later, Paul reconciled with Mark and was working with him again (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11). Finally, Mark was found laboring with Peter in Rome (1 Peter 5:13). Tradition says that Mark was instrumental in founding the Church in Alexandria, becoming its first bishop, and, also that he suffered a martyr’s death. (from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Early non-Biblical Attestation to the Authorship of St. Mark from Papias (early first third of the 2nd Century):

We shall add, as being a matter of primary importance, a tradition regarding Mark who wrote the Gospel, which [Papias] has given in the following words: “And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterward, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the needs [of his listeners], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s sayings. That is why Mark made no mistake when he wrote these things as he remembered them. Above all else, he took special care not to omit anything he had heard and not to put anything fictitious into what he wrote.”

—Fragments of Papias, a bishop of the early Church)

And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

St. Mark alone uses a pointed verb for both our Lord’s Baptism and when the curtain of the temple divided. From this Greek verb,  σχίζω, schiso, we derived our word, “schism”.  The heaven were ripped asunder when Jesus came up out the Jordan and the Holy Spirit descended as a dove.  The temple curtain was likewise torn,ripped-asunder.  The Temple curtain was, as seen below, a large curtain between the Holy Place Image result for the temple curtain tornand the Holy of Holies.  The Holy of Holies held in the first temple, the Ark of the Covenant. Only the great High Priest, properly cleansed by sacrifices and ablutions, could enter into the Holy of Holies once a year, on the Day of Atonement.  Knowing these facts, the Book of Hebrews  is understood in its many references to Jesus as the High Priest, e.g.:

when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9)

Jesus, the great High Priest, did not need to be made holy and offer sacrifice for the sin of the world, yours and mine, as He is the Holy One of God who offered Himself as the Sacrifice, once and for all, so that  by faith through grace He makes us holy.

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5)

When  the temple curtain which is the final barrier that separates God’s people from his immediate presence is torn open, the Kingdom of God is open to all believers (see the Te Deum Laudamus in Matins).  In Jesus’ Baptism, the wall of separation is violently ripped open. Jesus is baptized unto the death. The tearing open of the heavens is an expression of God’s desire to be at one with humanity, with you and I, as well as a vivid picture of the price that would have to be paid. “Mark would have us know our Lord’s entire ministry is a passion story, whereby he tears open the curtain of separation between God and man, and ensuring an everlasting Yom Kippur, that is, a Day of Atonement.” (Dr. David Scaer). 

On the Eve of the Festival of St. Mark, thirty-five years ago, I was ordained into the Holy Ministry of the Church.  Maybe the main directive for every pastor is to show people and God’s people the open door to heaven by and through teaching and preaching the Word of God, and the right administration of the Sacraments. The goal of every Christian is to show people to the church door, through which, the Lord said He is present in His Word and in His Sacraments.  As Jesus said, I am the door of the sheep.  When we say to someone, Let me show you door, it is a rebuke to tell the person to get out.  In Christ, when a pastor says, let me show you the Door, he is guiding you to the gate of eternal life with the door marked with His own blood.  

15 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
16For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron. (Psalm 107)

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