Today, Sunday 25 April, is St Mark’s Day. The Gospel reading for today honours the young man who accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their earliest missionary journeys and the person who wrote the first ever Gospel. In all likelihood two different people, but both evangelists, both people who spread good news.
The Gospel on St Mark’s Day (Mark chapter 13 reading from verse 5) is part of the longest speech that Jesus gives in Mark’s Gospel: pure unadulterated words of Jesus from start to finish. Today’s reading ends with this verse: “the one that endures to the end shall be saved” (Mark chapter 13 verse 13).
Jesus’ words are spoken in the context of persecution. The ‘endurance to the end’ that Jesus speaks of here isn’t about salvation by our own efforts, more sheer physical survival. It is a bleak context but these words carry a confidence in being saved, of deliverance. They bring comfort as a promise.
Claire Gilbert in a recent book Miles to go before I sleep writes of her journey through diagnosis of myeloma and a brutal round of stem cell treatment. She is an authority on Julian of Norwich and her book, Revelations of Divine Love. Claire writes:
How are we to understand “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”? This isn’t an unreasonable, unthinking optimism that “everything’s going to be all right”. Rather it will be all right in the end, and if its not all right, its not the end.
That insight gives hope in our current covid context where everything is clearly not all right. Yet trusting that in God’s good time one day we will be through it and that “all manner of thing shall be well”.
Virtual Service 25 April