A reflection on the Gospel of Mark (16.15-20) by Fr. Bobby Cena.

Saint Mark the Evangelist wrote the shortest, yet earliest, Gospel. It is the longstanding majority view among biblical scholars that Saints Matthew and Luke used the Gospel of Mark as their source. This hypothesis is what the scholars call Marcan (Markan) priority.

What we have today from the Gospel of Mark is something that frightens believers of today, like you and me, and most especially priests.

“These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16.17-18)

I for one have never driven out a demon. I have difficulty learning new languages. I am definitely afraid of snakes and certainly would not dare take a deadly drink. I have anointed many deathly ill people. Most of them did not survive. Do all these prove that I am not a true believer of Christ?

Saint Gregory, in commenting on 1 Corinthians 14:22, says, “These signs were necessary in the beginning of Christianity. In order that faith might take root and increase, it must be nourished by miracle; for so even we, when we plant shrubs, only water them until we see that they are taking root, and when we see that they have rooted themselves, we cease to water them.”

Saved by the bell, so to speak…

Nevertheless, as believers, we are not saved from Jesus’s call to go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to the whole of creation. And there are things that we really need to do:

There is one demon that we need to drive out… the demon of individualism.

There is one language that we need to speak… the language of mercy.

There is one snake that we need to take hold and control… the snake of clericalism.

There is one deadly drink that will not harm us… the poison of materialism.

There is one illness that we need to lay our hands on… the illness of indifference.

These are the signs that the people of today are looking for in all of us who believe in the resurrected Christ.

Fr. Bobby Cena is a diocesan priest from the Philippines who is doing a Doctorate of Ministries at Regis College, University of Toronto. While doing his studies, Fr. Cena is residing at Scarboro Missions’ central house in Scarborough.