Year B: Year of Mark
Second Sunday in Advent
Gospel: Mark 1: 1-8
Until Mark wrote his Gospel, people would have heard oral accounts of the life of Jesus and some would have had letters from St Paul. The letters offered insights about Jesus as the Christ - and offered help and advice for the new Christians - but they did not offer much in the way of detail about what Jesus actually said and did.
This was to be the work of the Gospels. They took incidents from the life of Jesus and through them developed their theology - or, more precisely, a Christology... a “study” of who the Christ is.
Some story-tellers lead you gently into a story - setting the scene - introducing characters - unfolding the plot - building up the tension - leading you inexorably to the climax. Mark is not such a story-teller! The whole of his Gospel is summed up in the opening sentence: this is the beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Mark does not set out to write a biography of Jesus - nor is he writing an epic in praise of a great hero. Mark is inventing a whole new form of writing in which he takes events from the life of Jesus and through them, helps his readers to learn about the person of Jesus - but also to absorb His teaching. He leads his readers through the events - and brings them to the foot of the cross where a Roman soldier repeats the words of the opening sentence we hear today ”This was the Son of God”... (remember that Mark was writing for a Roman community who would welcome the significance that it was one of their own how made such a declaration)
Today’s proclaimer is, however, of the Jewish tradition - following in a long line of prophets who have been waiting for the one who is to come.
At this stage, John the Baptist has not met Jesus - but he knows he is coming. Perhaps his own disciples were trying to convince John that he was the promised one - but John knows otherwise. He is not the Lord - but is commissioned to prepare His way. He is to baptise with water for the forgiveness of sins - but the one who is to come will give His life for the forgiveness of sins - and will baptise His followers with the Holy Spirit.
Though this is the Good News about Jesus, He has not yet appeared - the world is still waiting...
What does it mean for me?
What does the Gospel teach us about our role in preparing the way of the Lord?
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