Scripture: Lectionary # 266. Sat. April 14. Acts 4:13-21. Psalm 118:1.14-15.16-18.19-21. Mark 16:9-15
The passage from Mark 16:9-15 is named the “longer ending”. It is considered canonical by the Church and was known from the second century on, but is not part of the original Gospel of Mark which ended very abruptly at 16:8 “They (the women) made their way out and fled from the tomb bewildered and trembling; and because of their great fear, they said nothing to anyone.” This ending left many wondering whether Mark’s own ending was cut short at this point, lost, or, perhaps, the way he wanted it to end. The present four endings to the Gospel of Mark are attested by ancient manuscripts. We have a portion of the longer ending read at the liturgy today. It helps us to review in our own minds the past week of resurrection narratives. This longer ending refers to three of the Resurrection apparitions; thus we have a helpful summary that enables us to renew our own experience of the Resurrection through several retellings. The fact of such additional verses would be an excellent part of the New Testament for those interested in “textual criticism” which is the scientific study of the existing manuscripts. Probably, the best and easiest source for understanding how this exegetical groundwork is to read the chapter on textual criticism in Raymond Brown’s Introduction to the New Testament.
The Resurrection is such a great event and grace of God that these endings attest to the desire to have more about Jesus’ resurrection and to neglect nothing that was possible from the oral traditions that first arose in the communities left by the apostles, the great witnesses of the Resurrection.
For our meditation on today’s Scripture, we may want to read Psalm 118 entirely, but especially those verses that are presented in the Easter liturgies. One that may serve as a continual prayer during the day is this one: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.” In rereading a resurrection passage we could pause and recite this verse from Psalm 118: 24. We should let our faith of the heart savor it in remembering the resurrection pericopes we have heard this past week. Or we may just want to insert it into the three examples given in the selection from St. Mark today in the “longer ending.” We should have the same feelings of gratitude that the Israelites had when on pilgrimage to the Temple, the holy place of God’s dwelling. Verse 24 expresses the heart’s glowing language for us. We just have to pray and not think too much; it is a matter of the heart. Amen. Alleluia.