Penrith Road, Berwick Hills, Middlesbrough TS3 7JR
Marion’s Weekly Reflection
Do you ever wonder what happened to the people who are mentioned only once in the Gospels? I know I do.
For instance what happened to blind Bartimaeus after Jesus gave him sight?
Or Zacchaeus when he repented of swindling his fellow Jews? Lazarus after Jesus restored him to life, or the woman Jesus saved from being stoned to death?
These are real people who were lucky enough to have met the Son of God face to face and their lives would never be the same again. The more I read the Gospels the more I wonder what they went on to do or become. I hope they would have become members of a new church and believers in the Resurrection. It gives great scope to the imagination. Of course there are others we do know quite a lot about. My interest in one of them when I was about fourteen years old. I went to Kirby grammar school and my teacher was called Miss Kirby who went on to join the Anglican community of Nuns at Holy Rood Convent. Miss Kirby took us through the Gospel of St. Mark and when we came to the Easter story I met a certain young man called Mark. This is the only Gospel account that mentions him being in the garden of Gethsemane.
A certain young man, dressed only in a linen cloth, was following Jesus. They tried to arrest him but he ran away naked leaving the cloth behind. Miss Kirby told us it was probably Mark himself, the writer of the Gospel and therefore an eyewitness to what happened. The disciples had fallen asleep……
From then on I was hooked and I saw the crucifixion through Mark’s eyes. Somehow I identified with him and still do when I read about it. I can see vividly because I have been to the Holy Land and spent time in Gethsemane. It’s a very moving experience. The horror Mark witnessed. We know quite a lot about him. It’s believed the upper room in his house was used for the Last Supper and it was probably the headquarters of the early church. Here Jesus appeared to his disciples when they were hiding behind locked doors. Here the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost. It was to this house that Peter came when the angel released him from prison. Mark was young, not old enough to own the house. It belonged to his mother who was called Mary. He must have been fatherless or the house would have had his father’s name. These are the facts we can be fairly sure of. I wondered why. Other things have come to us from tradition. Mark was called the ‘stump fingered’ I wonder why. Perhaps he was born like that or had an accident, but imagine him losing them when he tried to defend Jesus from the mob who were calling for his death. As I said the imagination is a powerful thing!
His story became so real to me I wanted to write it as a novel. I began years ago never dreaming it would come to anything. Rejections! I began to write poems and pantomimes, stories for children and articles for the church magazine. Then something prompted me to take the Mark manuscript out of the drawer. I realised it was a skeleton that needed some flesh and bones, so I rewrote it. I gave Mark some friends called Daniel, Izzy and Jacob, and a real character, Rhoda who was the maid in the house. I included the disciples and all the other people in the Easter story and then the work of the early church. I wrote because I felt compelled to do it. I had left teaching to bring up a large family but I still wanted to reach people with the Gospel message. Becoming a Reader gave me the opportunity to preach but I wanted to reach the young people who had no interest in church. Strangely enough I found that older people enjoyed the book because it isn’t a heavy theological piece of work. They needed something simple to explain our belief in Jesus through the eyes of people who met him.
So this is how the Young Fishers came to be written. It’s called that because I imagined Peter giving them the name when they wanted to be involved with his work. Jesus had called him to be a fisher of men. No one knows who first devised the fish sign of a Christian so I had Mark devise it.
I am thankful that many people have found the book of interest and it has sent them back to the Gospels to read again the true accounts. ‘The Young Fishers’ is being reprinted and copies will be available if you would like one.