Proclaim the Good News

– Feast of St Mark –

Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation”. [Mark 16:15]

Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation”. (Mark 16:15)

This is an interesting passage of scripture because the oldest existing manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel finish at verse 8 and much of the vocabulary is totally different from the rest of the Gospel. It was possibly added because it was felt that verse 8, which focuses on the fear of the disciples and fails to mention the resurrection, was not a proper ending. The Council of Trent included the added section in the Catholic canon, and verses 15 to 20 are the Gospel reading for the Ascension and for the Feast of St Mark today.

The first verse is a summary of the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19. The emphasis here is that Jesus’ disciples – that includes us – have a responsibility to proclaim the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus. That good news is the offer of forgiveness of sins and of eternal life.

The last two verses describe the ascension of Jesus to the Father. Jesus has done what the Father sent him to do, and now it is time for him to resume his place in the heavenly realm.

The verses in between about ‘signs that will accompany those who believe’ are problematic. They seem to be derived from stories in the book of Acts. Anyone tempted to drink poison or handle venomous snakes based on the promise in verse 18 should keep in mind that its origin is questionable and there are no supporting passages in the New Testament. Jesus never intended drinking poison or handling snakes to be a sign or test of faith. The greatest sign of our faith is love for God and neighbour.


by Elizabeth Harrington

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