Mark is the focus of 2012.
The year 2012 is the year of Mark, Cycle B, in the Church’s cycles of scripture readings. The first to be written and the closest to oral traditions, Mark’s gospel originates in the watershed year A.D. 70, the year the Roman 10th Legion destroys the temple in Jerusalem, leaving not one stone upon another, the clue to the time of its writing (Mark 13.2).
Forty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, many eyewitness disciples have grown old, died, or been martyred—Peter and Paul in Rome in the mid 60s, James in the 50s. These disciples can no longer proclaim Jesus’ good news face to face orally. To hand on these traditions about Jesus’ teachings and actions, Mark writes them down so they can travel through time and call new generations to faith in Jesus.
When Jesus receives the baptism of John the Baptist, the heavens split, the Spirit comes upon Jesus and drives him into the wilderness for 40 days of closeness to God. When Jesus hears Herod has arrested the Baptist, he goes to Galilee and begins preaching, “God’s kingdom is at hand.”
On the 3rd to the 7th Sundays of Ordinary Time, the gospels describe the first dynamic days of Jesus’ ministry. On a Friday Jesus calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow him and fish for people. On Sabbath he teaches at the Capernaum synagogue, calms a man with a disruptive spirit, and raises up Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever. She becomes his first woman disciple. In the evening Jesus heals all the sick that gather at his door and on Sunday morning leaves to preach and heal in other villages.
Jesus’ reputation spreads widely when a leper who begs for healing can’t keep secret that Jesus touched him and made him clean. This is the first of many times Jesus asks those he heals to keep secret who he is, a theme scholars call the messianic secret.
By the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time we expect Jesus to heal those who seek him, but instead he forgives the sins of a paralyzed man. With this shift controversy enters the narrative. Scribes hear blasphemy in Jesus’ words. Who can forgive sins but God?
Who continues Jesus’ dynamic ministry in our world?
The dynamic Jesus in Mark’s gospel, from author Joan Mitchell, CSJ is readily available in Mark’s Gospel, the Whole Story.
In worship, Christians read and hear the gospel narratives in small bits and bites rather than the whole story. In experiencing the gospel in bits and bites, we seldom reflect on themes across the whole narrative or notice the strands of oral storytelling Mark’s gospel uniquely preserves.
Sister Joan’s new book, Mark’s Gospel, the Whole Story is for individuals, bible study groups, and small Christian communities that want to use its simple tools, become active bible readers and explore the revealing patterns of the whole. Jesus becomes written word in Mark’s gospel and travels through time as story to us.
Read a sample chapter from Mark’s Gospel: The Whole Story for a fuller picture of the dynamic Jesus.