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From: Mark 1:1-8

The Ministry of John the Baptist

[1] The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

[2] As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before
thy face, who shall prepare the way; [3] the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

[4] John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repen-
tance for the forgiveness of sins. [5] And there went out to him all the country
of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the
river Jordan, confessing their sins. [6] Now John was clothed in camel’s hair, and
had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. [7] And he
preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose
sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. [8] I have baptized you with
water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”


1. With these words St Mark gives us the title of his book and emphasizes that
Jesus is the Messiah foretold by the prophets and that he is the only Son of the
Father, whose nature he shares. The title summarizes the content of the Second
Gospel: Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.

The word “gospel” means good tidings, the good news God sends to mankind
through his Son. The content of this good news is, in the first place, Jesus Christ
himself, his words and his actions. “During the Synod [1974 Synod of Bishops],
the Bishops very frequently referred to this truth: Jesus himself, the Good News
of God (Mk 1:1, Rom 1:13), was the very first and the greatest evangelizer: he
was so through and through, to perfection and to the point of the sacrifice of his
earthly life” (Paul VI, “Evangelii Nuntiandi”, 7). The Apostles, who were chosen
by our Lord to be the basis of his Church, fulfilled his commandment to present
to Jews and Gentiles, by means of oral preaching, the witness of what they had
seen and heard—the fulfillment in Jesus Christ of the prophecies of the Old Tes-
tament, and the forgiveness of sins, adoptive sonship and inheritance of heaven
offered by God to all men. For this reason the word “gospel” can also be used
in the case of the Apostles’ preaching.

Later, the evangelists, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote down part of this oral
teaching; and thus, through Sacred Scripture and apostolic Tradition, the voice
of Christ is perpetuated throughout the centuries to reach all generations and
all nations.

The Church, which carries on the mission of the Apostles, must make the “gos-
pel” known. This it does, for example, by means of catechesis: “The primary and
essential object of catechesis is, to use an expression dear to St Paul and also
to contemporary theology, ‘the mystery of Christ.’ [...] It is therefore to reveal in
the Person of Christ the whole of God’s eternal design reaching fulfillment in that
Person. It is to seek to understand the meaning of Christ’s actions and words
and of the signs worked by him, for they simultaneously hide and reveal his mys-
tery. Accordingly, the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in
touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only he can lead us to
the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trini-
ty” (Bl. John Paul II, “Catechesi Tradendae”, 5).

2-3. The Gospel quotes Isaiah in particular perhaps because he was the most im-
portant of the prophets who foretold the coming of the Messiah: that is why St Je-
rome called Isaiah the “Evangelist of the Old Testament”.

4. St John the Baptist presents himself to the people after spending five years in
the desert. He invites the Israelites to prepare for the coming of the Messiah by
doing penance. The figure of St John points to the continuity between the Old
and New Testaments: he is the last of the prophets and the first of the witnesses
to Jesus. Whereas the other prophets announced Jesus from afar, John the Bap-
tist was given the special privilege of actually pointing him out (cf. Jn 1:29; Mt 11:

The baptism given by the Precursor was not Christian Baptism: it was a peniten-
tial rite; but it prefigured the dispositions needed for Christian Baptism — faith in
Christ, the Messiah, the source of grace, and voluntary detachment from sin.

5. “Confessing their sins”: by seeking John’s baptism a person showed that he
realized he was a sinner: the rite which John performed announced forgiveness
of sins through a change of heart and helped remove obstacles in the way of a
person’s acceptance of the Kingdom (Lk 3:10-14).

This confessing of sin was not the same as the Christian sacrament of Penance.
But it was pleasing to God because it was a sign of interior repentance and the
people performed genuine penitential acts (Mt 3:7-10; Lk 3:7-9). In the Sacra-
ment of Penance, in order to obtain God’s forgiveness one must confess one’s
sins orally. In this connection Bl. John Paul II has said: “And keep in mind that
the teaching of the Council of Trent on the need for confession of all mortal sins
still holds and will always hold (Sess. XIV, Chap. 5 and Can. 7). The norm taught
by St Paul and by the same Council of Trent, according to which the worthy re-
ception of the Eucharist must be preceded by the confession of sins when one
is conscious of mortal sin, is and always will be in force in the Church (Sess.
XIII, Chap. 7 and Can. 11)” (”Address to Penitentiaries of the Four Major Basili-
cas in Rome”, 30 January 1981).

8. “Baptizing with the Holy Spirit” refers to the Baptism Jesus will institute and
shows how it differs from the baptism of John. In John’s baptism, as in the other
rites of the Old Testament, grace was only signified, symbolized. “By the bap-
tism of the New Law, men are baptized inwardly by the Holy Spirit, and this is
accomplished by God alone. But by the baptism of John the body alone was
cleansed by the water” (St. Thomas Aquinas, “Summa Theologiae, III, q. 38, art.
2 ad 1). In Christian Baptism, instituted by our Lord, the baptismal rite not only
signifies grace but is the effective cause of grace, i.e. it confers grace. “Baptism
confers the first sanctifying grace and the supernatural virtues, taking away Ori-
ginal Sin and also personal sins if there are any, together with the entire debt of
punishment which the baptized person owes for sin. In addition, Baptism impres-
ses the Christian character in the soul and makes it able to receive the other sa-
craments” (”St. Pius X Catechism”, 295). The effects of Christian Baptism, like
everything to do with the sanctification of souls, are attributed to the Holy Spirit,
the “Sanctifier”. It should be pointed out, however, that like all the “ad extra” ac-
tions of God (i.e. actions external to the intimate life of the Blessed Trinity), the
sanctification of souls is the work of all three Divine Persons.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

5 posted on 12/03/2011 7:56:22 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Scripture readings taken from the Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd

Mass Readings

First reading Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11 ©
‘Console my people, console them’
says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’
A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’
Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

Psalm Psalm 84:9-14 ©
Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.
I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
  a voice that speaks of peace,
  peace for his people.
His help is near for those who fear him
  and his glory will dwell in our land.
Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.
Mercy and faithfulness have met;
  justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
  and justice look down from heaven.
Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.
The Lord will make us prosper
  and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
  and peace shall follow his steps.
Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

Second reading 2 Peter 3:8-14 ©
There is one thing, my friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord, ‘a day’ can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not being slow to carry out his promises, as anybody else might be called slow; but he is being patient with you all, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change his ways. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and fall apart, the earth and all that it contains will be burnt up.
  Since everything is coming to an end like this, you should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, when the sky will dissolve in flames and the elements melt in the heat. What we are waiting for is what he promised: the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.

Gospel Acclamation Lk3:4,6
Alleluia, alleluia!
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight,
and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

Gospel Mark 1:1-8 ©
The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah:
Look, I am going to send my messenger before you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.
and so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

6 posted on 12/03/2011 7:59:13 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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