Faith, Fellowship and Fun

January 10: Mark 1:7-11 pdf version here

Mark1:7 John proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

9   In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
(NRSV)

The message of John was: “After me, 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.”
Around that time, Jesus arrived from Nazareth in Galilee, presenting himself to be baptised by John in the Jordan. As he came out of the water, he saw the heavens burst open above his head, and the Spirit, in the likeness of a dove, coming down and resting on him. And he herd voice from high up in the heavens saying:
‘You are my Son, whom I love.
You bring joy to my heart“


(B.O’RourkeOSA - A Man Called Jesus)

Initial Observations
It is important to establish who John the Baptist was. In summary, a prophetic figure, in the mould of the iconic prophet Elijah; he withdrew from the temple cult into the desert because of the compromised nature of the priesthood; he preached the coming Kingdom of God, an experience of judgement; historically he may or may not have recognised Jesus. (The stories in John 1 are driven by theology not history.) As a follower Jesus echoed his mentor’s teaching.
The similarity between the message of John and that of Jesus is evident. However, whereas John preached
judgement and conversion, Jesus preached the good news and conversion. Finally, Mark 1.8, as it stands, reflects Christian theology. It is likely that John used a comparison of water and fire, as follows:”I have baptised you with water; but he will baptise you with fire.”

In continuity with the biblical tradition, the legitimation of Jesus is presented as a theophany, with visual and acoustic symbols. Note that only Jesus sees and hears the symbolic phenomena — as well as, significantly, the reader. Thus the reader then attends to the rest of the story differently on account of this privileged knowledge about the identity of Jesus

Thought for the Day

In all our lives, there are ‘before and after’ moments, whatever they might be (parenthood, marriage career, etc.). In my life as a disciple, can I name any particular ‘before and after’ moments? This probably won’t include baptism, because most of us were just babies, but later, what happened to bring faith alive and help me grow up as a believer? Such reflection may help us to grasp the significance of John’s baptism for Jesus himself. For him, it was a true ‘before and after’ event, sustained by the ringing affirmation, ‘You are my Son, the beloved’ with you I am well pleased.”

KIERAN O’MAHONY OSA - www.tarsus.ie
The first Christians were convinced that baptism or a similar ritual was insufficient to follow Jesus. It was necessary to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
The unprecedented changes we are witnessing are asking of Christians today an unprecedented fidelity to the Spirit of Jesus. Before working out projects in detail we need to change the way we see today’s world. We need to be more like Jesus, to allow ourselves to be worked on by his Spirit. Only Jesus can give a new vision and appearance to the church.
The Spirit of Jesus continues to live and work today in the hearts of the people, even though we do not even ask how we relate to those who have definitively left the church. The time has come for us to be the ‘church of Jesus’ for all, and only he can show this to us.
We should not talk only in terms of crisis. Conditions are being created in which the essence of the gospel can find expression in new ways. A more fragile, weak and humble church can make the Spirit of Jesus more truly understood and welcomed.

JOSÉ A PAGOLA—Following in the Footsteps of Jesus, Year B
In all the gospels the baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of his public ministry and the focus is on Jesus’ identity as he sets out to proclaim the kingdom of God, In Mark’s account of the event it is clear that what takes place is for Jesus’ sake, as we are told that it is he (and not the crowds) who sees the Spirit descend in the form of a dove and the voice from heaven is addressed to him as it proclaims: ‘You are my beloved Son.’ The evangelist would have us understand that, as Jesus sets out on his mission, he does so with a sense of who he is before God. It is precisely this that allows him to be faithful to his task to the very end.

SEAN GOAN—Let the Reader Understand, Year B
Jesus wanted to be baptised. The river Jordan was a great river in Palestine, near Jerusalem, and he decided that this was where he would be baptized. This was happening to many of his people and he wanted to join them at this point. Clearly, this was an important moment in his life, when he accepted to be with his fellows. It is important that he should be the same with us.
When he came up “out of the water” something extraordinary happened – something that would remain crucial to him and to the rest of his ministry.
– A voice “came from heaven”, and the words it spoke tell us three important things about Jesus, and therefore about ourselves:
a) “you are my child”. You are someone very precious to me, someone I would be happy to be alone with, someone I can trust easily.
b) you are “the Beloved”, called to be important to me; I love them and they are one with me;
c) “My favour rests on you”. This is a crucial phrase in the Bible. God’s favour rests on us – whatever we thought about the world now counts for nothing; it is unimportant to him and to us.
Together these words tell us what counts between Jesus and God; they also tell us what happens between us and God.

MICHEL DE VERTEUIL—Lectio Divina on the Sunday Gospels

POINTERS FOR PRAYER

  1. John gives an example of humility as a person confident in his own role but not seeking to claim to be more than he is.   He acknowledges that Jesus is greater.   There is a freedom in being able to acknowledge the gifts of others without losing a sense of one’s own giftedness.  Recall times when you were able to do this.
  2. The baptism of Jesus was an extraordinary religious experience for him. Something happened that was a major step forward for Jesus in coming to know that he was the beloved Son of God.   We all have events in our lives that are milestones along the road of discovering who we are.   What have been these milestones for you?
  3. “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”   Bring to mind experiences in which you knew you were the beloved (of God or of another person) and that the one who loved you was well pleased.  Remember these experiences with gratitude, knowing that the only proper response to love received is thankfulness. Perhaps you have also given that experience to another.
  4. It is easy to lament the growing secularisation in the world today, but the Spirit of God who spoke loudly to the world in the Christ-event is active today. How can we be open to the new things the Spirit is saying to the church today?

JOHN BYRNE OSA—Intercom
Jesus did not announce himself with the sound of trumpets. And he did not come vested like a judge. Instead, after thirty years of a hidden life in Nazareth, Jesus came to the River Jordan, together with many other people, and there waited in a line with sinners. He wasn’t ashamed; he was there with everyone, with sinners to be baptised. Therefore from the very beginning of his ministry, he manifested himself as the Messiah who takes upon himself the human condition, moved by solidarity and compassion.

POPE FRANCIS—The Gospel of Mark