Personality reflected

A happy, happy day

It’s not often that we are celebrating the birth of a new prince or princess, so it is special, though I wasn’t quite ready for the drip feeding of information during the course of yesterday. Such is the interest of much of the nation that we are drawn into the story, and pick up the little nuances of the drama. For me, it was Charlotte turning and waving to the crowd - how aware for a little girl - as she and her brother, with Prince William their father, strode confidently into the hospital for a first sight of their new brother.

Personalities can be quite obvious from an early age, and the those of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, as revealed in gesture and eye contact, are, no doubt, reflected elsewhere in the Royal Family, and part of what makes us all so varied and interesting. Who will the new young prince remind us of, I wonder, as he grows - through what will inevitably be an exposed childhood - to find his place as the third child of the man who will one day be king?

Speaking of personalities, yesterday in St Mark’s school, we were thinking of both St George, of whom we know relatively little, and St Mark (whose feast day is tomorrow) whose traditional identification with two or even three possible characters in the New Testament, give us some food for thought. Much better, it is surely, to learn of Mark’s character from the way he has written his account of the life of Christ.

So, by verbal gesture and inner-eye contact we find the headlong rush of the story of Jesus according to St Mark, bringing energy and challenge to our study of our Lord’s ministry. John the Baptist bursts on the scene, as does Jesus himself, in the early verses of a Gospel marked with excitement, and honest weighing of the response of those who seek to follow, or question, or confront.

In Ireland, on my recent retreat at the Holy Cross Monastery in Rostrevor, I spent a while considering one aspect of this “personality revealed”, as I learned the interesting fact that, between chapters 8 and 10 of St Mark’s Gospel, three times Jesus insists that he is about to suffer and die, and on each occasion he is deflected from talking further about it: In 8: 31-32 Peter attempts to rebuke our Lord; in 9:31-32, Mark says that the disciples didn’t understand, and were afraid to ask him anything more; and, in 10: 33-34 there is silence, and then James and John request their places with Jesus in glory. Yes, well, there is food for thought here. What does it say of Mark; of the disciples; of our response to the quirks of human nature?

John Mann