I’m preaching a mission at St. Gabriel Parish, Marlboro, New Jersey, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, March 30, April 1-2, “Finding Jesus in the Gospel of Mark.” On Monday at 7 PM I’m speaking about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry described in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel. On Tuesday at 7PM the Passion of Jesus. Wednesday evening at 7 is the parish penance service. Each morning I’m celebrating the 9AM Mass.
St. Gabriel’s has a fine audio-visual setup which offers an opportunity for some material on the Holy Land I’ve gathered through the years.
Mark’s gospel, influenced by the apostle Peter, says that Jesus goes immediately to Galilee after John’s arrest, to the Sea of Galilee, to Capernaum where Peter the fisherman and other followers lived with their families.
Luke’s gospel, on the other hand, has Jesus beginning his ministry in the synagogue of his hometown of Nazareth. John’s gospel has Jesus begin his ministry at a marriage feast in the neighboring town of Cana
Clearly, Mark has chosen Peter’s story. “He came first to Capernaum, my town, to my synagogue; he lived in my house.” Peter would say. Interestingly, Mark does not dwell on the baptism of Jesus by John as the other gospels do. His account of Jesus’ baptism is the shortest.
A recent segment of the CNN special on “Finding Jesus” claimed that Jesus was a disciple of John, a follower who did what John his mentor did and taught as his mentor taught. Mark’s gospel tells a different story. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom, not in the desert as John did, but in the towns and synagogues of Galilee and in the city of Jerusalem. John avoided all these places.
In fact, Jesus choses first the towns and synagogues of Galilee. He lives in Peter’s home in Capernaum; he goes into gentile territory and announces God’s kingdom there. He makes his way to Jerusalem.
John waits in the desert for the Day of the Lord which he expects soon. But Jesus enters the world of his day, to its towns and cities, its synagogues and homes. He travels to the wider gentile world across the Sea of Galilee to announce the Kingdom of God and a time of mercy.
You wish the creators of specials like CNN’s would take a better look at the gospels. There’s great artistry and spiritual teaching in the simple details of Mark’s gospel. Great drama. Great truth.