I have not been comfortable with the ending of Mark’s Gospel since my first reading of it. The Bible I was given as a third grader was the one I first used to read the resurrection story; it was my group’s assignment at youth group when I was in middle school. We were given Mark 16:1-8. The story ends with the women running away from the empty tomb seized with “terror and amazement;” worse, they “said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” It wasn’t the pretty story from John that I was accustomed to hearing. I understood that the women who first experienced the joy of resurrection were understandably blown away and freaked, but that sentence isn’t the most inspiring closing. Or is it?
Since that first reading I have continued to reflect on Mark’s dramatic rendering of what happened at the first Easter’s dawn. I have certainly understood the very human reaction those first witnesses have, I have pondered the reality that plainly they found their voices – Mark at least heard the story – but I have continued to repeatedly look at this account, perhaps the first resurrection account beyond Paul’s encounter with the Risen Christ, as disturbing and demanding a response from me. Which, I know, may be the point.
Then this Easter I read a marvelous “editorial,” at least that were it appeared in the editorial section of the online version of The New York Times. Written by Esau McCauley, a professor at Wheaton College, the article is “The Unsettling Power of Easter.” McCauley shares my fascination with Mark 16 and he states what I have long begun to suspect: the Resurrection is supposed to be unsettling. Mark 16 is unsettling because death dies and all our norms are changed, because knowing Jesus is raised tells me to abandon my own comfortable life and to live a new resurrected life, working to make the power of God known. That power directs how you live, how you die, and how we live again.
No wonder those ladies were freaked when out in the garden.
Alleluia! The Lord is Risen. Alleluia!
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