Faith, Fellowship and Fun

Mark 1:1-8
Mark 1:1-8 (translation from THE MAN JESUS, by Ben O’Rourke OSA)
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Isaiah the prophet wrote
I will send my messenger ahead of you,
And he will prepare the path for you.
He will be a voice crying out in the desert
‘Make way for the Lord.
Make a straight path for him.”
And so John the Baptiser appeared in the desert baptising people and urging them to change their ways and be forgiven. From all of Judea and from Jerusalem, the crowds flocked to hear him. They acknowledged what was wrong in their lives, and John baptised them in the River Jordan.

Now John was dressed in a garment made of camel hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was wild honey and locusts ‘After me’, was his message, ‘there is someone coming who is much wiser than I am. I’m not good enough to bend down at his feet and untie the laces of his sandals. My baptism is just with water: his baptism will have the power of the Holy Spirit.’
In the first century there were a variety of views as to how God would act on behalf of his people. Many hoped for a dramatic intervention and stunning military victories, but John’s focus was on their need to repent, in other words to change their worldview and to live accordingly. In this way they would leave themselves open to what God would do through Jesus who, though more powerful than John would come to them as a servant.

The call to repentance lies at the heart of the Advent session. Like the people of John’s time we too long for a better world and a time when suffering will cease. However, such a change will not come with the waving of a divine magic wand. It will come when we prepare ourselves for it, when we open our minds and hearts to the gift that is offered to us at Christmas. It is not a call for sentimentality about the child in the manger, it is a radical call to change and that is never easy.

The Good News in Mark calls us to a resilient faith today
- By attending to the Word that inspires hope and action and that does not seek passivity but an active trust in God present in a graced world. - As Disciples this Advent we are called to humbly attend to this gift... to wake up! - Our faith is not in a God who sent us Covid 19 but in the God who sends his Son to us through the Spirit and who is with us “on the Way”
SEAN GOAN - Let the Reader Understand, Year B
As Christmas approaches, we could ask ourselves: how can we prepare to celebrate the birthday of our Saviour? The proclamation of John the Baptist points to the preparation that really counts: conversion of heart and life. The deeper meaning of metanoia is a change of vision, a radically new outlook, in the light of the Gospel. God is our compassionate father, our Abba, who desires nothing less than our hearts, our whole selves. We are accepted and loved by him, while we are still sinners (Romans 5:8). Receiving his forgiving love means a revolution in values, beliefs and direction in life.

What John seeks goes beyond the moral conversion of each person. It is about preparing the way of the Lord: a concrete and well-defined way, a way that will fail the conventional expectations of many.
The reaction of the people is touching.They go to the desert to listen to the voice that calls them. They become aware of the condition they are in; they feel the need to change; they acknowledge their sins without blaming one another. According to Mark, they confessed their sins and John baptised them.
The conversion we need to make in our way of living our Christianity cannot be improvised. It requires a long period of soul searching and inner change. Many years will be needed before we live more truthfully in the church and recognise that we need to be converted in order to to place Jesus Christ more faithfully at the centre of our Christianity.
We may be tempted today not to go to the desert, tempted to escape the need for conversion and not to listen to any voice calling us to change, to distract ourselves with anything in order to to forget our fears and conceal or lack of courage. The image of the Jewish people confessing their sins is remarkable. Do Christians today not need to make an examination of conscience to acknowledge their errors and sins? Without doing so, is it possible to prepare the way of the Lord.

JOSÉ A PAGOLA — the Footsteps of Jesus (Year B)
  1. Mark opens his gospel by describing it as “the good news about Jesus Christ”. Think of the different ways in which the gospel stories have been good news for you.
  2. John the Baptist is presented as a messenger to prepare the way for Jesus.    Who have been messengers to you, preparing the way for the Lord by alerting you to ways in which you could improve your life? To whom have you been such a messenger?
  3. John calls the people to repentance (= a change of heart), as a way to a new life.    Can you recall times when you had a change of heart, and the change led to new life for you?
  4. John baptised people with water as a gesture to mark their change of heart.   Sometimes we perform an action to symbolise our change of heart - write a letter, throw away our last cigarettes, etc.    Can you remember a symbolic gesture with which you marked a change of heart?

In verses 2 and 3 you can focus on the fact that the story of John the Baptist was already written in the book of Isaiah, or you can look at the content of the verses.
The first two lines are from Malachi, and the pronouns must be interpreted correctly: they are saying that when God is about to come into the life of a person or a community he always sends a messenger to prepare the way for him.
In the next part of the prophecy be sure to interpret correctly the meaning of "cries in the wilderness" which means that God's prophets always announce confidently to those who are in the wilderness that they must not despair, but rather act as if God's grace will come to them at any moment.
Verses 4 and 5 summarise the mission of John the Baptist who touches a community or nation so that the people commit themselves to a renewed life, recognising their former sins.
In verses 7 and 8 we get a glimpse of the humility of John the Baptist, a model of waiting. John may have said these words at a time of triumph, showing that he did not let success go to his head, or when he was feeling frustrated and knew he must be content to wait for God's moment of grace.

MICHEL DE VERTEUIL - Lectio Divina on the Sunday Gospels

Beginnings are important, so we might pause here a moment, at the beginning, take a breath and ponder the fact that the entire story that follows is just a beginning. When we arrive at the end of Mark’s Gospel we will see that it actually has no ending.. Instead Mark challenges each of us to continue the narrative.
Recall a time when you heard ‘good news’ that had a deep impact on your life. Who brought this news? What emotions arise in you as you recall that time?
New beginnings can be a time to reflect on where we have come from and where we are going. How do you experience life’s transitions? For what new beginning do you long?

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