Daily Thought For December 10, 2017
The Lord Is Doing Something New
“The beginning of the Gospel …”
Beginnings are generally small, even insignificant. Nightfall begins when the first faint star appears. A world-changing technology may begin in a flash of insight entirely hidden to all but the thinker. A life-changing love may have its origin in a subtle glance whose potential could never be fathomed by the two who exchange it. Advent celebrates just this kind of beginning, one bursting with possibilities.
The Gospel itself, “the power of God for salvation” (cf. Rom 1:16), begins with a solitary voice in the desert. Those who heard that call probably thought the eccentric John, with his camel hair and locusts, was the focal point of what was about to begin. But John is not staging an event as if he were launching a new product line or planning an inauguration. Instead, he claims to be no more than an advance messenger; the “one mightier” is drawing near. This is why John pares his existence down to the essentials. This is why John insists on a symbolic baptism of repentance and a confession that is both an admission of sin and a proclamation of hope and praise: John is preparing the way of the Lord. This is the Lord who had spoken through the prophets, anticipating the utter newness that was “impossible to human beings, but not for God” (cf. Mk 10:27): “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you” (Ez 36:26).
For Mark, it isn’t only a written account that starts, as all books do, from “the beginning”: it is the Gospel itself that is just beginning, even now. We even find a new beginning at the end of Mark’s Gospel, where the Lord sends us, like the apostles, to proclaim the Gospel to every creature (cf. Mk 16:15). Mark is telling us that the entire written Gospel is the first breath of something startlingly new.
Lord, I admit to a certain amount of fear in the face of what is new, even when I secretly know that the old and familiar no longer work. During this Advent week, let me hear your word in a new way. Renew me in mind and heart, so that I will be able to respond to you in peace. Then I will give you praise for the great things you are bringing about before my very eyes!
Lord, even here, even now, you are doing something new!
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2009). Advent Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 26–27). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.