The 2nd Sunday of Advent  – 10 December 2023
Lectionary Readings: Is 40:1 – 5. 9 – 11;  Ps 85: 9 –14 ; 2 Pt 3: 8- 14 ; Mk 1: 1 – 8
Theme : Gospel of Jesus Christ , Son of God

I put my focal point on Mk. 1:1.  This first verse works as the title of the whole Gospel of Mark. Arché  is translated as “Beginning”  or  “ Origin” . In this case,  it can refer to the Good News  that Jesus announces, or to Jesus himself, as announcer or messenger.   The word  arché  evokes the origin story in Genesis, as it is in John´s Gospel, announcing  a new beginning in history.  When Mark uses this term, it is always related to the beginning of Creation  (Mk 10:6  and  Mk 13:19).

Benedict XVI states the following question:  “Is Jesus only an a messenger (….) or  is He, himself, the message? “ .  The Good News is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  The compound term “Jesus Christ”  as a personal name is characteristic of St. Paul, usually employed in his mission.  Mark could have taken this term from him, relating it to  “Son of God”. 

Both titles,  ChristĂłs  and  Bios Theou  point to the mystery of Jesus, who asked a key question of his disciples:  â€śWho do people  say I am? (Mk 8:27)  and  â€śWho do you say I am? “ (Mk 8:29).  Peter answered:  â€śYou are the Christ” , and at the end of the Gospel, the Centurion confesses:: “Truly, this man was the Son of God”  (Mk 15:39).  The Roman Title, Son of God  could evoke the cult of the Emperor. During Jesus´ passion , the High Priest joins both titles , ChristĂłs(Massiah, anointed) and Son of God,  accusing him of blasphemy  and sentencing him to death. 

I comment briefly on the meaning of the terms  Gospel, Christ and  Son of God: The  Greek word Euaggelion(Besorah in Hebrew)  derives from  aggelos = announcer;  the Hebrew term is mebasser.  Isaiah uses it to point out the carrier (herald) of good news to Sion and to Jerusalem  (Is 40:9). 

ChristĂłs ( in hebrew  Mashiah) derives from  chriein = anoint, consecrate. In the First Testament , this term is used to consecrate a person as chosen by the LORD, such us Saul and David (I Samuel 10; I Samuel 16).  The High Priest was ha-Cohen ha-Mashiah.  

The term Son of God officially designated the Emperor.  Julius Caesar was called “god” and was honored as such; he had his own temple and also a sculpture bearing an inscription  â€śto the invincible god”.  His successor Augustusadopted the title “son of god”.  For the Roman world, the birth of Augustus (the birth of the god)  was  â€śthe beginning of the good news” (euaggelion).  The text of Mark, written in Greek, could evoke an alternative to that good news:announcing the birth of a new Emperor.  Both terms,  Mashiah  and  Son of God, could be a challenge and a provocation.

For Reflection and Discussion : . How do I answer the question of Jesus: â€śWho do you say I am? 2. Can I take the centurion’s confession as my own?          

Bibliography :  Benedicto XVI (J. Ratzinger ) : Jesús de Nazaret , Madrid, (2007);   Hengel,M.  : El Hijo de Dios , Salamanca, (1978).

This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
 ConcepciĂłn F. Vivas , Spain, Alumna in ISPS-Ratisbonne.


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