WelCom December 2020
Second Sunday of Advent
Mark 1: 1-8
1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. 3A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’
4John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptised by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. 6John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey.
7And this is what he proclaimed: ‘One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. 8I have baptised you with water; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’
The missionary life of Jesus begins
A reflection on Mark 1: 1-8
Mark’s gospel is the beginning of the story of the Good News about Jesus Christ the Son of God. This gospel tells us how Jesus is the fulfilment of Malachi 3.1 and Isaiah 40.3 prophecies. Experiences of God were central to the Jewish Bible with the major figures, going back to stories of Israel’s ancestors like Abraham in the book of Genesis. Moses, the most prominent figure of Israel’s history, received his call from God through witnessing a burning bush unconsumed by fire. But he had to take his shoes off first.
Mark has John the Baptist as one who appeared from the wilderness proclaiming a Baptism of repentance. He tells of the large attendance and of John’s unusual dress and diet. John was an anti-establishment figure who spoke of an unnamed Jesus and of his unusual spiritual qualities. When John baptised Jesus in the Jordan River, the heavens were torn open and the Spirit like a dove descended on Jesus. As Jesus came out of the water, a voice from heaven was heard to say, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’ (Mk 1:11).
It is Mark who reveals the human side of Jesus. He relates the first instruction Jesus gives us. ‘This is the time of fulfilment; the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’ (Mk 1:15). What does Mark mean about the kingdom of God being at hand and the cause of fulfilment? In one sentence, Mark presents Jesus proclaiming the kingdom of God as a healer, exorcist, teacher and prophet. We know that God is all around us, and all we must do is reach out to Him in order to see and experience God’s love and joy. Love and joy that can overflow and spill out for others to also enjoy. This is true fulfilment. As the poet Elizabeth Browning wrote: ‘Earth is crammed with heaven and every bush is aflame with the glory of God, but only those who see it take off their shoes.’
These are wonderful verses to reflect on over the Christmas period. Let us enjoy God’s fulfilment in ways that are special for each of us.
Tom Gibson is a retired dairy farmer and a parishioner at Immaculate Conception, Stratford, Taranaki.