Keep Awake

The Gospel of Mark is a rapid gospel for the transition between the narratives is quick. This is corroborated by the frequent occurrence (41 times) of the phrase καί εὐθὺς which means “and immediately.” Thus Mark’s Gospel is sometimes called “the breathless gospel.”

The Gospel of Mark does not at all squander time but attributes great significance and purpose to it. Jesus begins His public ministry in this gospel by uttering; “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (1:15).

The Markan Jesus is someone who hates to waste time so much so that even post-resurrection He rushes to Galilee to minister. For it is written; “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”(16:7). The service of Markan Jesus is relentless; a service that is unstoppable by death.

Time is not mere historical continuum rather it is something that should be consciously redeemed; Thus St. Paul cautions; “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, redeeming (ἐξαγοραζόμενοι) the time.” (Eph. 5:15-16). Time is not futile but purposive; it has to be given meaning constantly. As Metropolitan Kallistos Ware observes; “True time is measured not by mere succession but by intention.”

Pay close attention to the four offices of time that Jesus strongly urges us to keep awake (v. 35);

  1. ὀψέ: opse: late in the evening.
  2. μεσονύκτιον: mesonuktion: at midnight
  3. ἀλεκτοροφωνία: alektorophónia: a period of time between midnight and 3 a.m
  4. πρωΐ: prói: early in the morning, at dawn.

What’s particularly striking of these time zones is the fact that we are at our weakest – both physically and spiritually – during these hours. So Christ seems to communicate that temptations and trials are at their heights and gain momentum when we are at our weakest. Therefore we need to be ever more vigilant when we are weak. Nevertheless the promise of God further strengthens our vigil; “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9).

In Christ,
Dayroyo Fr. Basil

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