Silence

The gospel of Mark has a strange feature. Everyone is asked to keep silent. Jesus silences demons; he ‘sternly’ tells the people he’s healed not to tell anyone about him. When Peter says who he is, again he tells his disciples sternly not to tell anyone. The ending of the gospel is as strange. In Mark 16:8 the women don’t talk to anyone even though the angel told them to go and tell the others.

Is Mark again alluding to Daniel here? It feels like Mark is twisting and unfolding the ending of Daniel. At the end of the book of Daniel towards the end of the visions, he is told twice by an angel to seal the prophecy. He is not to tell anyone. He is told to go his way and rest and he will rise at the end of days. (Dan 12:13)

According to Mark, the women of the tomb are silent even though they were instructed by the angel to go and tell the disciples. Were they being true disciples of Jesus by heeding his consistent command to be silent and not to tell anyone? But we know they did tell someone. That’s how we know the story. How did they come to point of telling the story of the empty tomb? How did silence turn to proclamation?

I think Mark is alluding to Daniel that only at the end of days can the silence be broken. The end of days is captured by the image and event of resurrection. So the women break their silence when they meet the risen Christ who is the end of days.

The warning to be silent is difficult. We want to be heard more than anything. A willful silence is hard. It requires trust in something or someone beyond words. Maybe that’s why Mark ends in silence. A silence we keep until our true future confronts us in the Risen One.

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