A guide to the ‘surprising’ gospel of Mark

January 5, 2024 in Featured News, News

The Deep End: A Journey with the Sunday Gospel of Mark » by Jane Mellet and Triona Doherty, is recently published by Messenger Publications with a foreword by Seamus O’Connell, Professor of Sacred Scripture at St Patrick’s Pontifical University in Maynooth. This is year A in the Catholic Church’s three-year liturgical cycle, so Mark will be the Sunday Gospel read throughout the year.

This is the third volume of The Deep End, a series of Gospel reflections. The authors say they want to invite people to journey with them through Mark’s Gospel as they offer insights and fresh perspectives that can help readers grow in awareness and understanding of this particular gospel narrative.

Nobody can eat our food for us, and nobody can pray our prayer for us, and no one can read the gospel and encounter the good news on our behalf, notes Professor O’Connell in his foreword to the book. But, he adds, “With the support of Triona and Jane, may we have the courage to risk reading beneath the surface! Like the first disciples may we chase after Jesus and may we live the adventure of finding him in the depths.”

The gospel of Mark, the first of the written Gospels, is short – the shortest by far of all the Gospels –dynamic, and according to the authors, surprising. Surprising in that the beginning does not mention the birth of Jesus at all, and the strange ending has no appearance of Jesus following the visit of the women on Easter morning to the empty tomb.

It is a gospel that is written to challenge and disturb, making clear that to follow Jesus involves self-sacrifice and service, but the redemption it offers is nothing less than the kingdom of God. Its message is that this Gospel is the beginning of the good news and it calls upon believers to search for and wait for God: ‘Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.’ (Mark 13:13).

The authors note that one of the recurring images from Mark is the movement from blindness to clear sight. The evangelist urges people to become aware of their spiritual blindness to look with clear eyes at themselves and others, and to integrate faith and life by coming face to face with the Word of God.

As with their previous books on the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, this book on Mark includes tips for prayer and meditation that can help increase understanding and facilitate an encounter and engagement with the living God. As noted by one reviewer in a previous volume, ‘There’s treasure here! I cannot recommend this double-act authorship of Triona and Jane too highly… a boon to anyone who wants to deepen their love and knowledge.’ (The Catholic Post).

Jane Mellett is the Laudato Si’ officer for Trócaire. Before this, she was a Parish Pastoral Worker for the Archdiocese of Dublin and has worked in pastoral ministry for over ten years. Tríona Doherty is a former editor of Reality magazine and has worked as a journalist and writer with Redemptorist Communications, CatholicIreland.net, and the Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland.

The Deep End: A Journey with the Sunday Gospels in the Year of Mark » by Tríona Doherty and Jane Mellett, is published in Ireland and the UK by Messenger Publications. Priced at €19.95/£18.95