And the women came out and ran away
from the tomb because they were frightened
out of their wits;
and they said nothing to a soul,
for they were afraid.
It is little wonder that later scribes attempted to correct this situation by supplying new endings (the ‘Shorter Ending’ and the ‘Longer Ending’ (vv 9-20) of Mark’s Gospel) that attempt to change the mood and add some focus for the text. Yet I believe that the original ending, even if the liturgy cuts of the reading at verse 7 to try and avoid this problem, provides a great conclusion to the Gospel and our celebration of Easter. For the whole of Mark’s Gospel has been asking this question – who is this man? (chapters 1 – 8) and what is the messiah (9 – 15)? These women, overwhelmed by the scene at the empty tomb and the sayings of the stranger dressed in white, are afraid and run away. The question that Mark leaves us with is – given all the evidence that has been presented through the Gospel – what will we do?
Will we have hearts that are empty (like Abraham and Mary who are able to respond to God with ‘Hineni’ – here I am) so that we can be filled by God and the longing that only God will answer? Or will we keep our hearts and minds filled with pat answers and dogmas that may well present us from actually encountering the living God?