St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

2nd Sunday in Advent B20

The first words of Mark’s Gospel are “the beginning”. That isn’t an accident. It’s meant to recall the start of Genesis 1:1(“In the beginning”). Mark is trying to tell us that God in Jesus Christ the Son of God[1] is doing something as grand as creation itself. But it serves another purpose. Mark’s original Gospel text ended[2] with the women who discovered the empty tomb and saw a young man dressed in white who told them that Jesus had been raised. Mark concludes his Resurrection scene with the surprising and confusing words: “They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” One well respected Scripture scholar[3] posited that after the resurrection it was up to the disciples to tell the story that Mark had begun. They would have to overcome fear of rejection, ridicule and mockery they would face. The same task, and fear, is ours today.

Mark then introduces John the Baptist by quoting from Isaiah, not trying to prove that Isaiah foresaw the coming of John[4] since Isaiah was trying to encourage the people of Israel in Exile by saying God will lead them back to their homeland as God led their ancestors from Egypt. Mark is trying to point out that what John and Jesus would do was all part of God’s plan. The events of the Gospel were not an interruption of history but the beginning of its fulfillment of all the previous events had prepared.

After that Mark tells what John did: preforming a baptism of forgiveness after telling the crowds of people to repent. But he called for more than confessing and being sorry for past sins; he called for a change of heart, a “metanoia”, to do things differently and to see things differently. We have let ourselves to expect less than what God has to offer us. I have an image of God being like a jack-in-the box. After much turning of the handle and waiting and waiting and waiting, God finally pops out to yell “Surprise! I’m here!”

Advent is a “surprise” season, if we clear our minds of preconceived thoughts and conclusions. It becomes a time of expectation, not about the presents and what they contain under all the wrapping paper; but what the presence of God can and will do inside of us by God’s gift and grace.

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[1] Right away Mark makes a profession of faith. There’s no “messianic secret” in Mark.

[2] Cf. the notes at the USCCB website and the footnotes in New American Bible and in The New Jerusalem Bible.l

[3] Fr. Eugene LaVerdiere

[4] This is called the “sensus plenior”, a deeper level of meaning that the Gospel writers saw but the original writers/prophets were writing/speaking of the events in their day.

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