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January 10, 1997     The Message
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January 10, 1997

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 - Commentary -_ The baptism of Jesus by John: The Epiphany according to Mark jan Gspel eommenta or uary 12 ion- . " ry fi - , .o,,v: lneta OfJesu s. p,.  1. _ tzsm . Ye..,,: Mark 1:7-11 s gospel begins by preaching of John st as an introduction to by John. His two points: the proclaims, the I" is so great declares himself unfit to slave: "I am not wor- down and untie his The second point between the effect' and Christian baptism: John's not give the Holy Spirit: "I have bap- but he Will baptize you with Would Mark insist on these two points as to Jesus' baptism by John? Both had gathered disciples. The disci- to have made the same claim of Jesus made for their hero, i.e. the Baptist to be the t T he gospels of Luke and John aat such a belief about John contin- Mark is the first of our written this point of view. John the Bap- put into his place by insisting when compared to Jesus and his baptism was not equal to Lptism. The baptism of Jesus by John By FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST the Baptist became an embarrass- ment to the early Church for two reasons: John's was a baptism of repentance for sin and, by accept- ing baptism from John, Jesus became John's disciple. The later gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John are much more detailed and in greater denial than Mark in combating these theological prob- lems. We have now seen how Mark handled them. We think of John the Baptist as baptizing only in the Jordan close to the cities of Jericho and Jerusalem in the territory of Judea. The gospels, however, indicate that he exercised his baptismal ministry in the Jordan from Galilee in the north, along the border of Samaria in central Palestine, to Judea in the south. Jesus was still resident in Nazareth in Galilee when he came along with other pious Jews to receive baptism at the hands of John. Thus far his baptism by John was not distinguished from that of his fellow citi- zens from Galilee, but now something amazing takes place. Jesus comes out of the river, he sees the sky torn open and the Spirit of God descends upon him in the form of a dove. There is a voice from the sky: "You are my beloved Son. With you I am well pleased." We need to be reminded that Mark is not writ- ing a biography of Jesus but has constructed this story to teach important truths of revelation. What is he teaching? The tearing apart of the sky hap- pens twice in the Gospel of Mark, at Jesus' baptism and at his death on the cross. In the first instance a voice from heaven attests to the divine sonship of Jesus. In the second instance the Roman centurion at the foot of the cross attests to the divine sonship of Jesus: "Indeed this man was Son of God." It should be noted that although Mark began his gospel by telling his readers that Jesus is Son of God, no human being in his gospel will ever learn that revealed truth until it is restated at the end of Jesus' earthly life by someone not even of his own people. The tearing open of the sky is Mark's pic- turesque way of saying that Jesus' divine sonship can be known only through divine revelation. The words: "You are my beloved Son. With you I am well pleased," are a dramatic choice. The first phrase is quoted from Psalm 2, a coronation psalm for kings descended from King David. The fuller statement is this: "You are my son. Today I have become your father." By these words the King of Israel became God's adopted son. Mark gives the words a more profound meaning. The relationship of Jesus to God is deeper than that of the kings of Israel to God. That is the role of the Holy Spirit in this baptismal scene. Secondly, Mark proclaims Jesus as King by quoting from the ancient corona- tion psalm. As Matthew proclaimed Jesus' kingship through the homage and gifts of the Magi, so Mark has done the same through the voice at the hap: tismal scene. Thus Mark's baptismal scene can truly be called the Epiphany according to Mark. Readings for Baptism of Jesus, Year B: Isaiah 42:1-4,6.7; Acts 10:34.38. DISCOUNTY BANK MBER OLD NATIONAL BANCORP Member FDIC STAR SERVICE BANK AUTO TOPS. SEAT COVERS. BOAT COVERS STEREO SALES & INSTALLATIONS 254-3943 HWY 50 EAST, BEHIND UPS CENTER EUGENE WELP, OWNER Fertilizer Service, Inc. Box 68 Montgomery, Indiana 47558 Traylor Phone: 486-3285 R "INCOLN-MERCUR,,. I I INSURANCE SERVICE Home l. Fire & Life! al Service Agent Will Ins. Agency Inc. L Street 425-3187 i: i JASPER LUMBER cO. COMPLETE BUILDING SERVICE Ph: 482-1125 RT. 4, JASPER 000iI 00bop Christian Books & Gifts Bey & Charlie Mendel, owners (112)1;34471M 416.JQOksoS. 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