Discipleship in St. Mark
Ched Myers reads the Gospel of St. Mark as centered on “the contradiction of the cross-life given, not taken-representing the only power that can remove the ‘veil’ over the nations” (41). Doing so, allows him to take into account sociological, literary, and ideological perspectives. Jesus’ crucifixion is a public execution, performed by the hands of the political powers. The structure of the work drives the reader onto the cross. Finally, because the reader has to respond to the death and resurrection of Jesus, the perspective of the reader must be considered (42). One word of caution for Myers and other modern readers is that it can be difficult to confuse the sociological and ideological perspectives. Modern society is overly-politicized and leads us to primarily define ourselves according to a political identity. When we read the text, culture has taught us to expect politics and we need to be careful we are not reading political significance into the text that may or may not be there. With that said, if the Gospel of St. Mark is born during the time of the Judean revolt, as Myers asserts, the political chaos of St. Mark’s own culture can be expected to play a role in his writing. As we read the Gospel of St. Mark today, listening to the Gospel to the poor (60) and the way it subverts the power structures of his own day (50), it can be easy to try to equate ourselves with the poor. We say to ourselves, “We aren’t the 1%. See, Jesus questioned those at the top too! We need a political system which cuts them down to size.” What this misses is that we live in the wealthiest country in the world. The poorest amongst us live more extravagantly than the majority of the world’s population. The Gospel of St. Mark confronts us to hear the faith of the powerless within its narrative and requires us to respond to Jesus with that same faith (50).
Ched Myers, "Mark's Gospel: Invitation to Discipleship," The New Testament-Introducing the Way of Discipleship. ed. Wes Howard-Brook and Sharon H. Ringe