Mark’s Gospel is famously compact, moving breathlessly from one scene to another in rapid succession. Immediately he did this and straightway they did that.
Mark’s Gospel is also famous for having not one, not two, but three possible endings. Possibility #1 is the women fleeing trembling from an angel at the empty tomb because they were afraid. End of story. Possibility #2 is a later addition called the “Shorter Ending”: “And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.” End of story. (An odd detail: they “told briefly”.) Possibility #3 includes some very brief references to three resurrection appearances followed by what we heard a few moments ago about snakes and poison and such. End of story.
Of course, it’s not the end of the story. The whole point of the story is that there’s no end to the story. “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” There’s a lot of the whole creation out there! Mark, who is famously concise, is suddenly expansive, framing the gospel project in terms of the whole creation.
So, how many endings are there to the Gospel? Is it three? Or is it none? That’s where we come in. The resurrection appearances continue in us—in a sense, we’re the risen body of Christ. Each of us, in a sense, and in a very flawed way, is a resurrection appearance. The story continues—there is no ending to the gospel, because resurrection continues in us.
So, up! Morning dawns. We rise to each new day’s resurrection appearance. Every day is “the third day”, and the first day of the week. We rise again and awaken to new possibilities—immediately, straightway. The whole creation waits.
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