St Mark’s Gospel is the shortest (only 16 chapters) and the most direct, crisp, clear, and energising of all the four Gospels. It is our major Gospel study for this church year. We start it today.
The very first line of the Gospel, that it was the Gospel of God that Jesus was proclaiming, are tremendous words. Contrary to the news of the world, this is good news or Gospel. It is full of hope. It is in news that brings people together. It is news of salvation that gives the power to conquer sin. In essence, God’s good news is His son Jesus, in whom God appears as He really is.
Jesus begins with the declaration that this is the time of fulfilment – the kingdom of God is at hand – arrived but awaiting development, for which people must repent, believe in the good news, and co-operate with it.
Today’s readings present an urgent call to us all to transition ourselves according to the mind of God. We may think it unlikely that God is calling ‘little us’ to anything very important. But today’s liturgy shows the great irony in God’s sending a good but reluctant Jew to the Ninevites, a pharisaical rabbi to the gentiles for whom he initially had contempt, and simple fishermen to found a world religion.
This is a constant theme of the sacred scriptures: God often selects the unlikelies in order that He may show that great things which cannot be accomplished in so called ‘ordinary’ people by nature, can be done by the wonderful power of this grace.