Making His Mark- Tuesday, 1st week in ordinary time – Mark 1: 21-28

Making His Mark- Tuesday, 1st week in ordinary time – Mark 1: 21-28

The Gospel of Mark was written in around 64-67 AD, before the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans. The Gospel was written in Rome by Mark who is usually portrayed as a companion of Paul or as 1 Peter 5:13 describes him as Peter’s co-worker. Mark wrote the Gospel when the Christians community lived under the threat of persecution.

Mark is the first of the Gospel writers to pen down an orderly account of Jesus’ ministry in what is a geographical-theological structure. The first part of the Gospel describes Jesus’ activity in Galilee and beyond and the second part of the Gospel focuses on Jerusalem and the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. The theological aspect of the outline highlights his authority (exousia)

The Gospel of today focuses on Jesus’ authority. It is the question of this authority, which forms the opening of His ministry in today’s Gospel and is revealed by Jesus in His work and word.  It is this authority that will be rejected by His own people and cause misunderstandings even among his disciples. It is the nature of this authority that Jesus will clarify on the way to Jerusalem. It is the consequences of this authority that will be spelt out by Jesus for his followers.  It is this authority that will bring Him in direct confrontation with the Jewish leaders who will reject his authority and put Him to death.

The Gospel of Mark opens with the proclamation of John the Baptist then moves to Jesus’ baptism, his temptations, and the call of the first disciples (four of them) and then the first of the many healings. Today’s pericope takes place in Capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus ministry. It is here on the Sabbath that He teaches with authority, rebukes the unclean spirit with authority and is recognized by the people as a man who speaks and acts with authority unlike the scribes. In the Gospels the scribes are the interpreters and teachers of the Old Testament law and not simply secretaries or clerks.

The Gospel of today describes the first day of Jesus’ ministry. He has called his first four disciples who follow him to Capernaum where he makes a grand entrance into the synagogue on the Sabbath and he astounds everyone with his teaching and miracle. At the time of Jesus the Sabbath service in the synagogue would feature prayers, scripture readings and teachings. Anyone with sufficient learning could be invited to teach; there was no need for rabbinic “ordination” in Jesus’ day.

Ruins of the ancient great Jewish synagogue at Capernaum or Kfar Nahum at the shore of Galilee lake northern Israel

It is in the synagogue that Jesus performs an exorcism on a possessed man. An exorcism is the departure of the demon, an evil force, from a human. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ exorcisms are viewed as victorious moments in the ongoing struggle with satan. It is this demon that objects to Jesus meddling in the domain of evil, for the coming of God’s kingdom would spell the end of the demon’s power.

The fact that Jesus cures the possessed man by words alone and without ritual or magical  display heightens the supernatural character of the healing. The power of His healing reinforces His authority leaving a trail of amazement among the people, all through the Gospel of Mark.

Jesus has made His Mark.

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