Be on the Alert

Posted by Thaddaeus

Mark 13:33-37


Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert!  You do not know when the time will come.  It is like a man traveling abroad.  He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.  Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.  May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”


Background:  The Feast of Christ the King marks the end of the liturgical year 2017.  The 2018 cycle of Sunday readings will feature the Gospel of Mark.  His name is John.  He is called by his surname Mark, or John Mark; so, not to be confused with St. John.  His mother is Mary Mark, Simon Peter’s mother-in-law; the one Jesus heals.  By traditional accounts Simon Peter is a widower when the healing occurs.  Peter is responsible for his nephew.  Mark is schooled in Greek, Latin and Hebrew.  Tradition holds that Mark is that servant at the wedding feast of Cana who Jesus’ mother says, “Do whatever he tells you.”  John Mark fills the jars with water and is eye witness to the first sign Jesus performs.  Young Mark is always associated with Jesus.  His cousin is Barnabas, the leader of the seventy disciples.  Mark accompanies Barnabas and Paul during their mission through Cyprus.  He is with Paul during his captivity in Rome.


Be on the Alert:  Mark is eye witness to Pauline theology.  Mark’s insight would have been useful to Peter.  Later Mark is Peter’s translator and thoroughly writes down everything Peter remembers about the words and actions of Jesus.  Mark is the first Gospel to be written.  He becomes the first bishop and martyr of Alexandria in Egypt.  Coptic tradition holds that the Church of St. Mark in Jerusalem is built on the traditional site of Mary Mark’s home in Jerusalem, the original house-church of early Christians.  Jesus stays here during pilgrimages to Jerusalem.  Coptic Christians consider Mark their founder.  The four intervals are the night watches of the Roman military.  The cock-crow is a trumpet sounding the 3 o’clock morning watch.    Ancient Jews believe that God restrains evil and visits the earth with his divine presence during the morning watch.  It signifies the hours of God’s mercy before the final judgment.