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portraits of christ III

to the
four gospels

critical minds
contemplative hearts

St. Mark POC.jpeg


with Fr. Vincent Pizzuto, PhD


Father Vincent Pizzuto, PhD is Professor of New Testament Studies and Christian Mysticism in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco. He received his doctorate in New Testament Exegesis from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (2003) and has since published and presented internationally in the areas of New Testament christology, ecological discipleship, marriage equality, inter-religious dialogue, Christian mysticism and contemplative Christian spirituality. In 2018 he published his second book, Contemplating Christ: The Gospels and the Interior Life with Liturgical Press; translated in Spanish, Contemplar a Cristo: Los Evangelios y la vida interior, (Desclée de Brouwer) in January 2022. As an Episcopal priest Fr. Vincent serves as Vicar of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church and Retreat House in Inverness, California. Working for the advancement of contemplative Christianity, he has reinvigorated the mission and ministry of St. Columba’s through the introduction of contemplative eucharistic liturgies, public lectures, online courses, directed retreats, thought provoking sermons, an online blog and a weekly online study of his book through the Meditation Chapel.


The Suffering Son of God

In this third semester of our “Portraits of Christ” series, Fr. Vincent will begin to explore the structure, theology, and literary ‘brush strokes’ of Mark’s gospel. Within its pages, Christ is portrayed as “The Suffering Son of God” in fulfillment of Isaiah’s oracle of the “Suffering Servant” which reads in part:

He was despised and rejected by others;

a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;

and as one from whom others hide their faces

he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities

and carried our diseases;

yet we accounted him stricken,

struck down by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the punishment that made us whole,

and by his bruises we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have all turned to our own way,

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all. (Is. 53:3-6)

This is the prophetic canvas upon which Mark will paint his portrait of Christ. Indeed, this is the palate of theological hues and messianic tones through which he will reveal at every turn that in Jesus of Nazareth the fulfillment of Isaiah’s oracle has come to pass.

Being the oldest of the four canonical gospels, Mark is also the shortest, lacking many of the most beloved gospel traditions. His account contains no infancy narrative, no Sermon on the Mount, no teaching on the Lord’s Prayer, or the Prodigal Son, or the Parable of the Lost Sheep, to name only a few. Indeed, the original ending of Mark (16:8) does not even included any appearances of the Risen Christ to his disciples, much less an account of the Ascension.

Nevertheless, Mark’s gospel is as rich as it is compelling, full of hidden mysteries, messianic secrets, and wisdom teachings that reveal far more theological depth than its apparent simplicity would suggest. In this intimate analysis of Mark gospel, we will explore not only the text in fine detail, but the interpretive tools that assist us in revealing his ancient message to the modern Church. Especially designed for contemplatives, this third in our series of classes continues our rich, meditative, and stimulating exploration of the gospels in ways that ground the life and practice of contemplative Christians today.


To interpret the gospel of Mark through modern tools of interpretation in view of the ancient context in which it was written

To uncover the literary ‘brush strokes’ throughout Mark’s gospel that reveal his portrait of Christ as the “Suffering Son of God”

To understand the literary genre of Mark not merely as objective history, but as history told through the lens of theology

To foster for contemplatives the capacity for a more prayerful rumination and "Lectio Divina" on Mark’s gospel


  • Seven live weekly online zoom presentations by Fr. Vincent, held on Monday from 11am-1pm PT, January 23 - March 6, which will be recorded and shared with participants to facilitate their own self-paced study of the material

  • Seven live weekly office hour sessions with Fr. Vincent, will be held on Thursdays, from 4pm-5pm PT, January 26 through March 9, for all participants who would like more personal attention in dealing with matters of faith, scriptural interpretation, or the general content of the course

  • Media-rich "Captivate Lectures" that also can be watched repeatedly at your own pace

  • Online break-out sessions that allow small groups to work together in order to interpret, collaborate, and pray with various scriptural texts


  • Full access to relevant educational tools, including: charts, graphs, maps, timelines, summaries, published articles, videos, presenter notes, personal journals, prompts for Lectio Divina, and worksheets all designed to engage participants in learning how to interpret the gospels with critical minds and pray them with contemplative hearts​


Cost: $150

Generous scholarships available


I am interested in the course but cannot commit to any or all of the Zoom meetings. Can I still register?

Yes! All of the Zoom meetings will be recorded and made available the following day to all participants whether they are able to attend the session live or not. If you need to miss any or all of the meetings due to scheduling conflicts, you can review the recording at your own pace.

I wish to take the course but have limited financial resources. What should I do?

Scholarships are available for those in need of financial assistance in order to ensure that no one is turned away from our programming for lack of funds. If you are in need of financial assistance, simply indicate that in our confidential online application form. If you have any questions about your registration, our administrator, Anna Haight may be emailed here.

How do I contribute to the Scholarship Fund?

The St. Columba’s Scholarship Fund is an essential way we ensure that no one is turned away from our programing. For those who are able to afford an additional amount toward our Scholarship fund, simply indicate the amount of your contribution in the PayPal form. We very much appreciate your generosity. All monies donated to our Scholarship fund are put into a restricted account to be used solely for the purpose of providing those in need with access to our programming. While our workshops do incur a cost on our staff and facilities, Fr. Vincent does not accept any financial stipends or any portion of the funds raised by this course. His dedication in producing meaningful content, reflective of our mission and vision, allows us to provide rich offerings to all who wish to participate.

I have not taken the previous two semesters of Portraits of Christ, can I still take this course?

Yes! While these courses slowly build upon previous semesters, each one stands on its own merit. If you did not yet take the first course in Spring 2022 or the most recent in Fall of 2022 these are now available on our website as self-paced online courses. There is plenty of time to take those courses on your own before, during, or after our Spring 2023 course beginning on January 23rd. Please note that scholarships are available for all current and previous courses. Simply indicate your request in the check-box of our confidential online application form. No one is turned away for lack of funds.

I am unfamiliar with the Bible. May I still take this course?

Yes!  Anyone who is interested and willing to put in a bit of effort will learn much. The course is designed to move at a gradual meditative pace with many opportunities for self-paced study throughout the week between the live Zoom presentations. 

What materials do I need to take the course?

Participants should have access to a critical English translation of the Bible. Access to the New Revised Standard Version can be found at Bible Gateway free of charge. Ideally, however, a printed copy of the Bible will be better. Since we are studying the Bible in English, it helps for various participants to have different versions of the Bible as this can illuminate how nuances in translation effect meaning. To that end, Fr. Vincent recommends the purchase any one of the following three versions. Please click on the underlined price for each version to link directly to that edition.


The New Revised Standard Version (Oxford Annotated Edition)  Soft Cover: $16; Hard Cover: $34

Benefits: Among the most critical modern English translation produced by the National Council of Churches. This is the version used on Sundays in the Episcopal Church as well as many mainline Protestant churches.

The New Jerusalem Bible (Study Edition)  Hardcover: $73

Benefits: This is the version Fr. Vincent will teach from throughout the series. However, some may not consider this correspondence a ‘benefit’ because having alternative translations helps us to see potential variations in meaning.

The New American Bible (Anselm Academic Study Edition)  Paperback: $36

Benefits: This is the version used on Sundays in the Roman Catholic Church.

Other Materials Needed:

A Notebook: For those who wish to print and collate the materials presented during the course, we recommend a three-ring binder. Computer or other device with WiFi and Zoom access.

St. Mark POC.jpeg
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