This is an aside/reflection to my general notes. I’m just getting into this frame of thinking – where Mark’s Gospel is the framework for these next two months, and situations of conflict/oppression are the context for today.
I’m remembering also that Mark’s Gospel could well have been written for the early Christian community in Rome – a community that knew something about being in conflict with the ruling powers. So it seems entirely appropriate that I write my thoughts on Mark’s Gospel whilst being attentive to what is happening in places like Israel Palestine.
The first chapter of Mark’s Gospel has the Greek word meaning ‘immediately’ 11 times. (It’s not always apparent in the English translations, because the translators use different words). Here is the first use of the word – ‘And just (Greek – immediately) as he was coming up out of the water …’
As soon as Jesus enters the story, things take off. There’s an urgency about the Mission. But, before the mission can begin, Jesus is baptised and affirmed as God’s son.
To know who we are can take a lifetime. The journey of self understanding can be a tortuous one for many. The most important part of our identity is our place in relation to God. God’s child. Everyone should be able to know this, and be afforded this dignity by others.
I have just been watching the documentary film ‘Occupation 101’ about Israel/Palestine. Palestinians are treated by many Israelis as second class citizens. The are treated by the Israeli state as people with no rights.
They have to stand in line to cross checkpoints to get to work, or school, or hospital. There is a recent documented incident of a Palestinian woman dying in childbirth because she was not able to get to hospital. (Her new born child also died)
I could say much more about this, and probably will. The trauma of living in a war zone in conditions of poverty, and oppression has had devastating effects on the Palestinian people.
The children of Gaza will need an army of psychiatrists to help them if they are ever to live anything like a normal life.
The wall that separates Israeli from Palestinian is called the wall of separation. In South Africa there was no wall, but Apartheid (which means separation) meant that black South Africans were treated as less than human in the same way that Palestinians are treated by Israel.
One small thing that we can do is to treat everyone with the same respect. We all need to know our identity as a child of God
John the Baptist is the link between the Old and the New. he stands in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets – proclaiming a message of repentance (metanoia – radical change) and forgiveness.
John’s prophecy – that someone will baptise with the Holy Spirit – is referred to later in Acts 1:5 by Jesus after the resurrection. The baptism that will take place at Pentecost, with the coming of the Spirit.
So what Mark is looking forward to in these words of John ‘He will baptise with the Holy Spirit’ – is beyond Christ’s death and resurrection, all the way to the coming of the Spirit.
Mark is setting his stall out in its entirety. This is what it’s all about in the end, he is saying. The fulfilment of God’s plan through Jesus, that will culminate in the coming of the Spirit.
The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Opening words are important. This is Good News. Whatever else it will be, it is Good News.
The Greek for in the beginning is ‘en arche’ … these two words are at the start of the book of Genesis, and also John’s gospel. In Genesis, the new beginning is creation. Everything has a starting point. ‘En arche’ is about something new.
In Genesis God’s new beginning brings life out nothing. Mark the evangelist is now talking about another new beginning, God’s new creation, which is all about who Jesus is and what Jesus will do.