The National Catholic Review

   This brief notice Mark gives illustrates a number of points of his interest as he writes to Christians in Rome. 

   First, there is the fundamental, central interest of the public life of Jesus: the announcement of the presence of the Kingdom of God.  This means that God has moved Himself to return to His people.  They had caused a rupture of the covenant with God, but now God wants it known that His anger is no more, that He wants union with His people.  This means, first of all, that He forgets and forgives the sins of the past, and looks forward only to a most loving union with His people.  Jesus’ preaching is about "the good news", precisely forgiveness of sins and eternal life, when I can be most fully and completely happy.

   Second, as always God hopes for a willingness on my part to strike up a covenant again with Him.  I know I want happiness, but the way to it is through repentance of those things which broke my covenant with God and ruiined my chances for eternal happiness.  Further, I am asked, so as to form this new covenant with my God, to believe that indeed He now offers me forgiveness and life.

   Third, implicitly Jesus is calling for faith in himself, faith that takes his word that God wants to fogive and live with me.  If I do not believe in Jesus, then I must look elsewhere for the key to life, for death is always waiting to deny me life.

   Fourth, there is no mention here of miracles, just preaching.  This shows that the main work of Jesus, for which he was called and sent, is his word of reconciliation and his teaching of what the reconciled, repentant ’me’ should look like.  Thus, though Jesus will eventually work miracles, as signs of God’s good pleasure and indicators that we are now in line for perfection (to move from blindness to sight is an example of the beginning of the Kingdom of God), the fact is that his words are his greatest gift to me.  Miracles will cease, but his guiding and consoling words will always be alive to me, as will Jesus himself.  Miracles are a glimpse of what the Kingdom will be like, the Kingdom whose time has now come.  God loves me, which means that He will make me perfect, perfectly happy - finally to be in His image and likeness.

   This Marcan text, put at the beginning of Lent, suggests our stronger cooperation with God through repentance and faith in Jesus and his word.  God has come to marry His people again, but there can be a marriage only if I want it - which is a subject for Lent.

John Kilgallen, SJ