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Reviews stories and images involve us as readers in the story

By: 'Madonna magazine' - 26th of February 2009

When travelling with Mark, you need a good companion to point out the route. Brendan Byrne is the best of companions. He is clearly fascinated by the Gospels, and has that gift, very rare in passionate travellers, of being able to guide you without distracting you with all the detours and discoveries he has made on his previous journeys.

A feature of Mark’s Gospel is Jesus’ stark and deadly conflict with the demonic powers. Brendan Byrne illuminatingly describes the demonic as the forces in our lives and our world over which we have no control. They could include political subjugation and personal addictions. These forces are themselves often controlling. So, when Jesus offers freedom, he challenges the fears that lead us into alliances with the demonic. It is not surprising that his life stirred a hostility that eventually became murderous.

Mark’s sharp stories and images involve us as readers in the story. The great virtue of Brendan Byrnes’ book is that it deepens our involvement in the Gospel without taking away the sharp edges or creating a softer and more pliant Jesus. It brings out the high cost of the Gospel. The Son of God’s human adventure leads him to lose everything that we believe makes life bearable for human beings. That is why it provides comfort for the uncomfortable, like the members of Mark’s persecuted community, whose faith must reckon with the possibility of losing everything.

This book does not dwell too much on the challenges that Christians face today. But by allowing Mark to speak for himself, it invites us to bring these challenges to our reading of the Gospels. 


– Review of Brendan Byrne SJ’s ‘A Costly Freedom’ in ‘Madonna’, January/February 2009.


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