Visible Expression

The ecclesial community, while always having a universal dimension, finds its most immediate and visible expression in the parish. It is there that the Church is seen locally. In a certain sense it is...

"... the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters..."

Pope John Paul II
Christifideles Laici [27]

Monday, 1 January 2018

Year B: The Year of Saint Mark

THE Gospel of Mark confronts us with the person of Jesus Christ. Theologians rely heavily on his writing as their source for their tract on Christology, the study of Christ. Mark faces us with the mystery of Christ and asks us for a response. Each reader must pose this question to himself or herself: "Who is this person?" He or she will respond that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and also the Son of Man. It is round the two natures the unique person of our Saviour that Mark's Gospel revolves.

Mark was not only Peter's companion, he was also his interpreter or catechist. Mark keeps close to Peter who remains the original, if not the only, source of his story. It is this fact which explains why we are given so many episodes in Mark which can only be described as 'eye-witness accounts' or 'narratives based on personal testimony'. Mark begins by introducing his main interest - the person of Jesus himself - and he follows Jesus through his public ministry in Galilee, outside of Galilee and in Jerusalem immediately before his passion. The 'confession of Peter' is the crisis or turning point of his Gospel so that the rest of the Gospel moves from the theme of the 'Kingdom of God' to that of personal attachment to Jesus.

After the 'confession' there follows the 'first prophecy of the passion' and the whole emphasis of Jesus' teaching is that the Son of man must suffer. Jesus directs his teaching exclusively to his disciples so that Mark's Gospel becomes a catechism of the christian life even to the point of suffering and death. We have to take up our cross daily and follow him. Mark so stresses the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ that his Gospel has been described as a 'Passion Story with an introduction'. The main theological theme is, therefore, on the mystery of Christ while the secondary theological themes deal with faith, discipleship and mission.

Mark's Gospel is short and his way of telling a story is direct and simple. He leads his readers directly to the person of Jesus Christ and in doing so is not afraid to depict in all its starkness the humanity of Jesus. While he does not dwell on the Incarnation, he is at pains to show us that God is present and at work in the person and ministry of Jesus. Everything else that he has to say is directed towards our understanding of this basic notion.

There is a series of five Sundays (17-21) when the readings are taken from John 6 to complete and fill out the eucharistic doctrine of Mark. Mark tells us of the compassion of Jesus for the crowds (16) and this is followed by the feeding of the five thousand (17). The expression of the compassion of Jesus is found in the multiplicqtion of the loaves and fishes: at this stage the Gospel of J ohn takes over and presents us with the feeding of the five thousand as a sign of Jesus as the Bread of Life. We move then from faith in the person of Jesus to the plan which the eucharist has in the life of the disciples and of the community. The teaching of Jesus on the eucharist causes a split in the community and some walked no more with him. We see Peter's confession of faith as our own. Jesus asked 'who' do you say Iam?" Peter spoke up and said to him, "You are the Christ". The difference which it makes to Peter's life marks out the life that we are destined to live. Mark asks us to concentrate on Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, so that we will follow him because we know he has the words of eternal life.


[SUNDAYS 1 - 24]

1. The baptism of Jesus [Mark 1:6b-11]
2. The call of Andrew and friend [John 1:35-42]
3. The call of the first apostles
4. A day in Capernaum (1)
4. A day in Capernaum (2)
6. The cure of a leper
7. The cure of a paralytic
8. The question of fasting
9. Violation'of the sabbath
10. Serious criticism of Jesue
11. Parables of the kingdom
12. The calming of the storm
13. Jairus' daughter and the woman in the crowd
14. Jesus rejected at Nazareth
15. The mission of the Twelve
16. Compassion for the crowds
17. Feeding of five thousand
18. The breao of life (1)
19. The bread of life (2)
20. The eucharist
21. Incredulity and faith
22. Jewish customs
23. Cure of a deaf-mute
24. Peter's confession


25. Passion and resurrection prophesied
26. Instructions for disciples
27. What God has joined together
28. The problem of wealth
29. The sons of Zebedee
30. The cure of Bartimaeus
31. The first commandment
32. The scribes; the widow's mite
33. The last things
34. Solemnity of Christ the King