“Whoever wishes to be great among you
will be your servant;
Whoever wishes to be first among you
will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life
as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45
The following reflection on the Gospel of Mark is taken from the Introduction to the Gospel of Mark from Sacra Pagina. Of note is that 90 percent of the Gospel is found in Matthew. There is a Two-Source hypothesis regarding the synoptic Gospels. The word synopsis means to compare and contrast things, side by side. John is not considered one of the three Synoptic Gospels because it is so different in content and form. The Two-Source Hypothesis believes and the Gospel of Mark and another source called Q, from the German Quelle meaning “source”, were the two earlier sources for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. “This latter source “Q” consists of roughly 335 verses, mostly sayings of Jesus, that Matthew and Luke share in common but that are not found in Mark [Page 4, The Gospel of Mark, Sacra Pagina Series]. Thus we know that Mark predates all other Gospels.
Of note is that “Mark writes about Jesus with a great human realism that Matthew and Luke often omit or tone down” regarding Jesus compassion, strong displeasure, surprise at disbelief, and sense of indignation, for example. This has been described as a “you are there” quality of giving details of accounts that Matthew later streamlines including the account of the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20), Jairus’ daughter and the woman’s faith (Mark 5:21-43 = Matt 9:18-26) [pages 16 & 17]. There is a greater sense in Mark that Jesus is often misunderstood and opposed. Another theme is that discipleship comes at a steep cost in imitation of Jesus self-giving, and the disciples lack of faith and shortcomings are more apparent here than in other Gospels. The fact of Jesus’ suffering and impending death are also highlighted more in Mark. Another aspect of this Gospel is the Messianic Secret as found in Mark 8:30 when Jesus forbade the apostles to tell anyone about him after Peter’s confession of faith.
As we continue with Liturgical Year B, let us take time to reflect upon this pivotal Gospel as we seek to live out our call to discipleship.