The Beginning of the Gospel: Mark 1:1-11

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaias the prophet: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee. A voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. John was in the desert baptizing, and preaching the baptism of penance, unto remission of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all they of Jerusalem, and were baptized by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying: There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I have baptized you with water; but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. And it came to pass, in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And forthwith coming up out of he water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit as a dove descending, and remaining on him.  And there came a voice from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. 

Before we start our study on the gospel of St. Mark, I would like to take a moment to explain my lack of participation, posting and the re-hashing of a study from my other blog. Since mid February I had returned to work. I am a salesman for a plant farm in northern Iowa, so my work is seasonal. The growing season this far north is very short, and through out the months of April and May, I’ve been putting in 80-100 hours a week. This really cuts into my study time (not to mention my family,prayer,bible reading and Mass times). So with June’s arrival has come a slight slowdown (only 50-70 hours a week). Now that you’re all caught up on all my “goings on”, let’s get into our study!

We see that at the very beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ that St. John the Baptist has been busy; busy to prepare ye the way of the Lord, for years, possibly. He had been preaching the baptism of penance, unto remission of sins. This was not a new practice to Judaism. Jews often baptized their gentile converts, some sects practiced baptism as a symbol of purification. As a matter of fact, on page 58 of “Judaism for Dummies” by Rabbi Ted Falcon, Ph.D. and David Blatner, they state, “the mikvah (a ritual bath composed of mostly fresh water) is a process of being born again and refocusing on creation.” This language should sound very familiar to us as Christians (John 3:3).

Please note that not only was St. John baptizing the people, he was also hearing their confessions! ….and were baptized by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins, only those who repented were fit for baptism for the scripture refers to it as a baptism of penance, unto remission of sins. Repentance, as we know, signifies not only sorrow for sin, but the resolve to sin no more. Those who repented and were baptised were pardoned, since both are needed for forgiveness.

This “repenting” was indeed their confession, for how else would St. John know their sincerity? How many times have I read this passage and missed this part? Doesn’t even the letter of St. James teach us to “confess your sins to one another“? Of course, we need to understand that before it was a Christian practice, it was Judaism’s practice. In fact, traditional Judaism still practice confession and reconciliation as part of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Again, from the book Judaism for Dummies, page 237; “Jewish tradition clearly states that Yom Kippur offers a blanket forgiveness from God if (and only if) you have both repented and atoned for any wrongs.” It goes on to say, “Atonement has more to do with actually making amends, fixing something that you have broken. Just apologizing isn’t enough; you have to find a way to make reparation. A rabbi might help you discover a suitable action but ultimately he (or she) can’t prescribe anything- that’s between you and the other person and God.”

Of course, Jesus gave His apostles the authority to forgive and retain sins (John 20:23) and passed that authority down through their successors (paragraph 77, 860-62 CCC, Matt. 28:20, Acts 20:28).

St. John the Baptist understood his role in salvation history, There cometh after me one mightier than I. Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, he remained humble in his important role.

So this week, let us ask ourselves these questions: Do I understand my role in salvation history? Am I sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leadership in my life? Am I humble before Almighty God? As we ponder these questions this week, look for ways to share your faith with someone. It may be as simple as sharing a smile or as bold as preaching a sermon. Let’s make this the beginning of the gospel in our lives.




4 Responses

  1. Great writing once again timglass,

    I am always inspired by your posts.

    I have a question for the Christian voter.
    Are we ready to team with Hillary supporters to
    defeat Obama?

    Do you have thoughts on this issue?
    I have a post to discus this prospect.
    I am looking for feedback from Christians as
    to the viability of such a proposal.

    God Bless

  2. Good to see you back and writing again, Tim. God bless you.

  3. Thanks rigg!

    I will check out your post and throw in my 2 cents!

    Blessings to you, also.

  4. Thanks Colin. I can’t say I’m totally back, maybe semi-back! 🙂

    Blessings to you Colin!

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