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Fr Bob Writes – January 11, 2015

Fr Bob writes : 2015 is the year of Mark. Throughout this year, the Ordinary Sundays will take us through the gospel of Mark from start to finish. Mark is the 1st century equivalent of the best seller writer. He is all about action. He leaves the descriptive details to the other gospel writers. Jesus in Mark’s gospel is primarily a man of action. His teachings are hardly ever given in detail.
So in today’s gospel passage , we move very quickly and directly from  John the Baptist’s sudden appearance on the public scene to the description of Jesus’ coming and his baptism. John simply sees himself as the “warm up act” for the main character , Jesus. Once Jesus is baptized, we never hear from John again, except to be told of his execution by  King Herod in chapter 6. As for Jesus, Mark quickly sketches in the main details of his role and identity by means of subtle allusions. When the heavens are torn apart over Jesus at his baptism, we are meant to recall Isaiah’s cry on behalf of the nation of Israel “Oh, that you would tear open the heavens and come down” (64:1) – a desperate plea that God would once more intervene in the history of the nation to save them, as he had done so often in the past. The “tearing open of the heavens” over Jesus is God’s answer to that cry, and his pointing to Jesus as being his chosen agent to bring salvation to his people.  The coming down of the Spirit recalls Psalm 104 ,”when you sent forth your Spirit we are created, and you renew the face of the earth”– Jesus is the one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit and thus initiate a new era of spiritual  renewal for  the world. This is effected in our lives by our baptism, which gifts us with the Holy Spirit.
The Father’s declaration over Jesus,  “You are my Son” recalls Psalm 2:7 where God promises that a king from David’s line would be adopted as his “son” and his “anointed one” (in Hebrew, messiah). . So Jesus is both The Son of God and Messiah. However, the rest of the sentence “the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased” recalls at the same time the words of Isaiah 42:1, which introduce us to a mysterious agent of God, the “servant of God” who, as his destiny is unfolded in future chapters of Isaiah ,is shown to carry out God’s purposes for the world by his death , which is presented as an atoning sacrifice for sins.(cf Isaiah 53:4-7) and is followed by the servant’s exaltation.
So, in a very few words, Mark reveals that Jesus is the Son of God, and also his Messiah (Savior) who will carry out God’s plan to save the world by his sacrificial death and resurrection. What words is God speaking over your life for your destiny and role in God’s plan of salvation ?