Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Mark, the Evangelist. Scholars believe that St. Mark's Gospel was the first to record the story of the Passion and Death of Jesus. Subsequently, several chapters of material were added to the Passion narrative to expand the Gospel. Fully one third of the Gospel, however, concerns itself with the sufferings and death of Jesus.
Scholars also believe that this Gospel was written in Rome by a disciple of St. Peter. In his first letter, St. Peter makes reference to a man named Mark; that excerpt is used as the first reading for today's feast. The community of Rome was steeling itself for the coming persecution, a persecution that came about immediately after the Emperor Nero burned most of Rome to make way for many "improvements." The populace of Rome was so upset by Nero's actions that he, in turn, sought to place the blame on others. The Christian community bore the brunt of this false accusation. Many Christians, including Saints Peter and Paul, were martyred during this persecution.
Careful reading of St. Mark's Gospel reveals that the suffering of the Christian community at the hands of the Roman Empire became one of the primary focuses of the Gospel. More than any of the other three Gospels, St. Mark's Gospel emphasizes the fact that followers of Jesus will be asked to suffer for their faith. However, the Gospel also promises great rewards to those who walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
Because of its marked references to suffering, this Gospel is particularly apt for members of CUSA. It renews us in our struggle to bear the cross of chronic illness and/or disability with a spirit of willingness to unite ourselves to the sufferings of Jesus.