When looking at the Sunday Readings and trying to understand what they are about one very useful rule of thumb is that there is generally a connection between the First Reading and the Gospel. This gives a good indication as to what direction to take.
We have in today’s Gospel an interesting interrogation. The priests and levites came out from Jerusalem to find out who this John the Baptist was, and whether he was the Messiah.
Mark is an Evangelist who doesn’t mess about. He goes headlong into things. As he tells us, here we have the beginning of his Gospel. Then in only the first eight verses that we have as our reading for today he briefly gives us an important prophecy from the prophet Isaiah, and then pushes John the Baptist on to the stage. But in four short verses he manages to sum up completely his whole life.
Today we begin the new liturgical year. During this year we hear the Gospel as told to us by St Mark. But do not think that we hear it the same way as we did three years ago.
This is a new year; we are older and hopefully wiser. Although on the surface we might think and feel the same, underneath we have changed. Time has moved on; our experience is richer and changes have occurred in our lives; we are indeed different. So, with these different ears let us hear the gospel afresh. Let us make an Ecclesiastical New Year’s resolution to be particularly attentive to the Word of God especially as presented to us in the Gospels in this coming year.
We often hear the phrase, ‘He lives like a king.’ By this we mean that the individual concerned lives a life of opulence and luxury, not giving a thought to what other people think or giving the remotest concern for the poor. But this is not the way people thought about kings in the ancient world.
As we noted last week we are now in the final phase of the Liturgical Year and we are given two parables about preparedness for the second coming of Christ—last week we had the Wise and Foolish Virgins and this week we are presented with the Parable of the Talents. Then next Sunday the cycle of readings will come to its end with the Feast of Christ the King and a meditation on the Last Judgement.
The texts chosen for the two Sundays between the feasts of All Saints and Christ the King mark a noticeable change in gear in our scheme of scripture readings. This Sunday we are presented with the Parable of the Bridesmaids, next week we look at the Parable of the Talents and then on the Feast of Christ the King we hear Christ’s teaching about the End of the World.
Recognition is very important in any walk of life and when we fail to give people proper recognition for what they have achieved we somehow diminish our very humanity.
By the time of Jesus the Law had greatly expanded from the original ten commandments. One writer says that there were 613 actual Laws as well as 365 prohibitions (one for every day in the year) and 268 prescriptions (one for every bone in the body).
The Pharisees decide to trap Jesus. They have taken enough stick from him and now they decide it is pay back time.
Father Alex McAllister SDS
Parish Priest of
St Thomas à Becket