Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Beginning: Mark 1:1 cont'd

It is striking that both John and Mark mention the arche, or the beginning. It is the same word used to open the Greek Old Testament. In fact, Mark and John agree with the general Apostolic notion that this new beginning, this new creation, was the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist (see Acts 10:37--generally considered a very ancient example of Apostolic preaching; I would also maintain that the 'beginning' mentioned in 1 John 1:1 also refers to baptism, but an argument for that reading would take us far afield).

Why is this baptism so significant? Why did not Mark begin with the Incarnation as the other gospels seem to have done (again, I would argue that John has in mind not the conception of Jesus, but His baptism, as evidenced by the prominence of John the Baptist in his prologue)? The reason for this simply is that this is gospel, Good News, a breathless report of something astonishing. It is at the baptism of Jesus that the plan of God's salvation for humanity, of His mission for Jesus Christ, is inaugurated and revealed. The Incarnation is a product of later reflection on this mission and its roots in the Holy Trinity. but for Mark and the Apostles, 'in the beginning' is the breaking forth of the Holy Spirit anew upon a wearied creation, through the obedience of the man Jesus Christ.

This has repercussions for us as Christians. For we, too, are a new creation and a new anointed by our own baptisms. We too are sent on a mission from God and this mission begins and follows the divine logic of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that each day, we may be 'born from above' and reactualize our own new beginning in baptism, that God's grace may break out upon all those we encounter!

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