Second Sunday of Advent, Year B Mark 1,1-8

The Gospel excerpt of the 2nd Advent Sunday brings the opening words of Mark’s Gospel. Since the Gospel writings did not have their headings, the opening verse fulfilled the function of a short expression of the content of the entire writing. Mark’s Gospel begins with the sentence: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” At the beginning, it is stated that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but then we gradually go through the entire Gospel to the foot of the cross, where the centurion’s confession is heard: “He was the Son of God.”

Joyful the message

Mark is the first to compile a writing about Jesus and call it the word “gospel,” which translates as “joyful message.” In the Greco-Roman environment, the term often denoted a message of victory. We also encounter the meaning of the heir’s birth to the throne or the day of his enthronement, referred to as the gospel. Already in the Old Testament, through the prophets, God announces the good news about the salvation of Israel and the future salvation that He will grant to all nations. They are mainly texts from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, for example: “The Spirit of the Lord, Yahweh, is upon me because the Lord has anointed me, he has sent me to proclaim joy to the smitten, to bind up the brokenhearted, to announce freedom to the captives and release to the bound.” (Is 61, 1) In the New Testament, the term gospel has only a spiritual and religious meaning. First of all, it refers to Jesus’ proclamation of God’s salvation. It is not a “word of warning”; “the last admonition,” but it is the gospel = God’s glad tidings for humanity.

The Lord’s Anointed

Mark announces in the first verse that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. Each of these titles has a deep meaning. Jesus translated from the Hebrew word “Jeush,” which means “God is salvation”. In the Old Testament, this Hebrew name was Joshua, who led the nation of Israel to the promised land. Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah” and means “Anointed One”. In the Old Testament, the office of king, prophet, and priest was handed down by anointing with oil. The Jews began to use the title “Messiah” to denote the awaited Lord’s Anointed One (Messiah), who would fulfill the promises of the prophets and bring freedom, peace, and justice to Israel (cf. Is 61, 1-3; Ps 89, 21-34). While in the Old Testament, God’s sonship was understood only in the symbolic meaning of election and love (e.g., a king or an entire nation was considered the son of God), the Gospels point to an exclusive relationship in which Jesus is of the same essence with the Father and his son ship is a direct participation in the divinity of the heavenly Father.

A new beginning

However, the evangelist did not just write some brief announcement that briefly introduces who Christ is and then calls to behave according to him. He wrote the story of Jesus, clearly showing that the cross is necessary to understand Christ. Therefore, there is no definitive answer about Christ in the Gospel until after the crucifixion. The very first word of Mark’s Gospel is “beginning.” So, the Gospel is the beginning and the foundation, not the completion. It is an invitation to follow Christ along the path marked and traveled by the first disciples. However, “beginning” also refers to the first book of the Holy Scriptures, the Book of Genesis. It begins with the conjunction “at the beginning.” The joyful message of the Son of God, which Mark passed on, is a new beginning for humanity, a new work of God as noble and unique as the world’s creation.

The desert and the voice

The first place mentioned in Mark’s Gospel is the desert. It’s not fiction. Only a few kilometers from the Jordan River begins the so-called Judean desert. In every culture, the desert also has a symbolic meaning. It is a sign of loneliness, separation from society, and danger to life. In the language of these last days, we can say that the desert symbolizes “lockdown.” However, in the noise of advertisements, stress, and constant rush, the desert becomes a deliberately sought-after place where a person meets himself and God. It allows him to calmly ask about the meaning of life and the goal of his human journey. John did not offer a baptism of repentance in the streets of Jerusalem but chose the desert. Mark speaks of a voice” that sounds in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

It refers to the Old Testament prophets, through whom God spoke and called people to repentance. Do we still have the desire and desire to listen to the Lord’s voice in today’s noisy society? Do we also perceive the situation of the current “closure” as a possibility through which God speaks to us? In this Advent season, let’s accept the word of the gospel, which invites us to conversion. During today’s Sunday, look at the family photos of your baptism or the baptism of your children. Keep an eye on them throughout the week. Talk about what being a Christian means and what faith gives you.

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