SOMETHING GOOD STARTS
Throughout this new liturgical year, we Christians read from the Gospel of Mark each Sunday. His short work begins with this title: «The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God». These words allow us to call to mind some of what we will find throughout his account.
With Jesus «something new starts». This is the first thing Mark wants to make clear. Whatever has gone before belongs to the past. Jesus is the beginning of something new and unmistakable. Later on, Jesus will say that «the time is fulfilled». With him comes the good news of God.
This is what the first Christians are experiencing. Whoever has a lively encounter with Jesus and penetrates his mystery just a little, knows that with him begins a new life, something never experienced before.
What they find in Jesus is a «Good News». Something new and good. The word «gospel» that Mark uses is very common among Jesus’ first followers and expresses what they felt when they met him. A sensation of liberation, joy, safety and the disappearance of fears. In Jesus they find «God’s salvation».
When someone discovers in Jesus the God-friend of humanity, the Father of all peoples, the defender of the least, the hope of the lost, that person knows that there’s no news better than this. When you know Jesus’ project of working for a more human world, one that is more dignified and happier, you know that you couldn’t dedicate yourself to anything greater than this.
This Good News is Jesus himself, the protagonist of the story that Mark is going to write. That’s why his first intention isn’t to offer us doctrine about Jesus or supply us with biographic information about him, but to seduce us so that we open ourselves to the Good News that we can only find in him.
Mark attributes two titles to Jesus: one typically Jewish; the other, more universal. However he saves some surprises for his readers. Jesus is the «Messiah» that the Jews were awaiting as the liberator of their people. But a Messiah very different from the warlike leader many longed for to destroy the Romans. In his story, Jesus is described as the one sent by God to humanize our life and guide history toward its definitive salvation. This is the first surprise.
Jesus is «the Son of God», but not equipped with the power and glory that some had imagined. A Son of God profoundly human, so human that only God could be such. Only when his life of service for all ends, in his execution on the cross, does a Roman centurion confess: «In truth, this man was Son of God». This is the second surprise.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf