by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Throughout this new liturgical year, we Christians will be reading the gospel of Mark on Sundays. His short text starts out with this title: "Beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, Son of God." Those words allow us to evoke something we will find in his tale.
With Jesus, something new "begins". It's the first thing Mark wants to make clear. Everything before belongs to the past. Jesus is the beginning of something new and distinct. In the story, Jesus says that "this is the time of fulfillment." With Him, God's Good News has come.
This is what the first Christians are experiencing. Whoever has met the living Jesus and penetrated His mystery a little, knows that a new life begins, something that they have never experienced before.
What they find in Jesus is "Good News." Something new and good. The word "Gospel" that Mark uses was very common among the first followers of Jesus and it expresses what they felt when they met Him. A feeling of liberation, happiness, security and the disappearance of fear. In Jesus, they find "God's salvation."
When someone finds in Jesus the God who is friend of men and women, the Father of all people, the defender of the least and last, the hope of the lost, they know they will find no better news. When they know Jesus' plan to work for a more humane, worthy and blessed world, they know they could not devote themselves to anything greater.
This Good News is Jesus Himself, the protagonist of the story Mark will write. Therefore, his primary intention is not to offer us doctrine about Jesus or bring us biographical information about Him, but rather to seduce us so that we will open ourselves to the Good News that we will only be able to find in Him.
Mark attributes two titles to Jesus -- one that is typically Jewish, the other more universal. However, he reserves some surprises for the readers. Jesus is the "Messiah" for whom the Jews were waiting as liberator of their people, but a very different Messiah from the warrior leader many wished for to destroy the Romans. In his tale, Jesus is described as sent by God to humanize life and direct history towards its salvation. This is the first surprise.
Jesus is "Son of God", but not endowed with the power and glory some might have imagined. A deeply human Son of God, so human that only God could be thus. Only when His life of service to all ends, executed on a cross, a Roman centurion confesses: "Truly this man was the Son of God!" This is the second surprise.