We are still in the first chapter of St Mark’s Gospel. So far, he has introduced John the Baptist and told us about the Baptism of Jesus and described how Jesus called his disciples. Now Mark begins to tell us about Christ’s public ministry and he does this by giving us the example of a typical day. We have the first half of that typical day as our Gospel text today and we get the other half next Sunday.
There are two very interesting words used in today’s Gospel reading: ‘time’ and ‘repent’ I think it would be interesting if we took a bit of a look at them. In Greek these two words are kairos and metanoia. Kairos meaning time; and metanoia which means conversion or repentance.
There is an interesting little parallelism which occurs in the Gospel passage today. The text says that when Jesus passed by John the Baptist ‘looked hard at him’ and said, ‘Look, there is the Lamb of God.’ Then later on Jesus ‘looked hard at Peter’ and said, ‘You are to be called Cephas, meaning rock.’
The Feast of the Epiphany is the oldest in the Liturgical Calendar after Easter and Pentecost and Epiphany was celebrated long before even Christmas itself came to be regarded as a feast.
We have here today part of the only story in the Gospels from the boyhood of Christ it gives the account of his Presentation in the Temple. The second part is the Finding of Jesus in the Temple. In the Gospel of Luke these passages act as a kind of a bridge from the story of Christ’s birth (the Infancy narratives) which is a sort of ‘overture’ before moving to the main theme which is Christ’s public ministry.
Christmas is one of the most loved feast days in the Church. Even in our ever more secular society it is a feast still celebrated by most of the population. People, whether of other faiths or of none, find themselves able to find meaning in it.
We have now come to the last Sunday of Advent and we are in the immediate preparations for Christmas. Each year Christmas seems to come around quicker and quicker and it is as if Advent hardly lasts any time at all.
Today we turn to John’s Gospel and consider the person and role of John the Baptist. You will notice from the Scripture references at the start of the reading that we are dealing with two separate passages from the first chapter of John’s Gospel.
On this Second Sunday of Advent, we hear the account of the ministry of John the Baptist as given by the Evangelist Mark. We should pay attention since in the coming liturgical year we are going to work our way gradually through the whole of Mark’s Gospel.
Today we begin the new Liturgical Year and the Season of Advent in preparation for the great feast of Christmas. Advent is a penitential time, though not so severe as Lent, and this is why there are no flowers in the Church and our music is a little more sober. We also refrain from using the Gloria during the mass as another way of distinguishing the season.