Category Archives: The Gospel of Mark

Reflecting on the Gospel for Palm Sunday

From The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy, commenting on Mark 11:7–9:

Why did Jesus choose to ride a colt, when most pilgrims would enter the city on foot? It was a prophetic gesture, fulfilling the messianic prophecy of Zechariah: “Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass” (Zech 9:9). The lowly animal shows that he, the King of glory (see Ps 24:7-10), comes in humility and peace, not as a warrior-king mounted on a stallion to lead a rebellion against Rome. It is also reminiscent of the royal procession of Solomon, the son of David, who rode a mule into the city at his coronation (1 Kings 1:32-34). Jesus knew what he was about, even if those around him did not yet realize its significance.

Jesus’ triumphal entry takes place among thousands of pilgrims arriving in the Holy City for the feast of Passover (14:1). There is a sense of excitement and elation, as the crowd around him shouts for joy and spontaneously shows him signs of honor. To spread cloaks on the road was a gesture of homage before a newly crowned king (see 2 Kings 9:13). . . . The crowd chants from Ps 118:2526: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! This psalm, originally a royal song of thanksgiving for a military victory, was one of the great hymns sung by pilgrims processing into the temple for a festival. Jesus will later apply it specifically to his coming passion and resurrection (Mark 12:10-11).

© 2008 Mary Healy and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

 

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Reflecting on the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent

From The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy, commenting on Mark 1:12-13:

The desert is depicted in Scripture as the realm of evil powers, symbolized by the predatory beasts that lurk there (Lev 16:10; Isa 35:79; Ezek 34:25). Jesus goes there to be tempted (or “put to the test,” NJB) by Satan, that is, to be tested in his resolve to carry out his messianic mission in accord with the Father’s will. He faces the same decision as Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen 3:16) and Israel in the desert (Exod 15:25; 16:4)but unlike them, he rebuffs temptation and stands fast in his determination to please the Father.

© 2008 Mary Healy and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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Reflecting on the Gospel for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

From The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy, reflecting on Mark 2:6-8:

Jesus’ word is what philosophers call a “performative statement,” a statement that brings about what it says. He is not merely telling the man that God has forgiven him; he is effecting that forgiveness. The significance of this stunning claim is not lost on the audience, some of whom are scribes trained in the law. They know well that forgiveness of sins is a prerogative of God alone (see Ps 51; Isa 43:25). Understandably, they are discomfited, and think to themselves, He is blaspheming. By perceiving these unspoken misgivings, Jesus gives the first evidence that his claim is legitimate, for it is God who reads the human heart (1 Sam 16:7; Jer 12:20; Sir 42:18). 

© 2008 Mary Healy and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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Reflecting on the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy, reflecting on Mark 1: 40-45:

Although leprosy has been virtually wiped out in developed nations, the loneliness and social stigma attending various physical or interior afflictions–for instance, AIDS or mental illness–is as widespread as ever. Indeed, leprosy is only an outward sign of the inner uncleanness experienced by all fallen human beings. The defilement of sin often causes a deep inner shame, even when a person is not consciously aware of it, that makes a person hesitant to turn to God. But as this man’s boldness in approaching Jesus was richly rewarded, so is the prayer of all those who approach him with confidence in his cleansing power, especially through the sacrament of reconciliation. Jesus is not dismayed, scandalized, or contaminated by any human defilement. He willingly removes it by the power of his own holiness, restoring our communion with others and making us fully qualified to enter into God’s presence.

© 2008 Mary Healy and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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Reflecting on the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy, commenting on Mark 1:31:

Jesus’ healings often involve his physical contact with the patient, a personal and consoling touch. In this case he grasped her hand and helped her up (literally “raised her up,” the same word used for his own resurrection, 16:6). This woman’s recovery from illness is a foreshadowing of the resurrection on the last day (12:24–26). Her immediate reaction is a model of discipleship: she waited on them. The Greek verb, diakoneō, later becomes a standard term for Christian ministry (Acts 6:2), from which we derive the word “deacon.” It is what Jesus himself said he came to do: “not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45). The right response to an experience of Jesus’ healing power is to begin to spend oneself in service to him and his disciples, that is, to the Church. Women exemplify this service in a particular way in the Gospels (Mark 15:41; Luke 10:40; John 12:2).

© 2008 Mary Healy and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

 

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Reflecting on the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy, reflecting on Mark 1:21-28:

The story of Jesus’ first exorcism portrays the forces of evil in a way that may appear to readers today as strikingly personal. For Mark, as for the whole New Testament, evil is not an impersonal force but is concentrated in invisible, malevolent beings who are bent on destroying human beingss and hindering God’s plan of salvation. These evil spirits are responsible for various mental and even physical maladies (7:25; 9:17–27; see Matt 12:22; Luke 13:11). Some exegetes, noting that the Gospels do not always clearly distinguish between illness and demonic possession, have concluded that the references to demons are simply a mythical way of symbolizing the misfortunes to which human beings are prone. The Church has always taught, however, that demons are real spiritual beings, fallen angels who were created by God but became evil by their own free choice (Catechism, 391–95).

© 2008 Mary Healy and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

 

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Reflecting on the Gospel for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

From The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy, commenting on Mark 1:18:

The call to be fishers of men evokes a prophecy of Jeremiah in which God promised to send out “many fishermen” to gather in the Israelites who had been scattered among the nations (Jer 16:14–16; see Mark 13:27). Jesus’ first disciples may have recalled this prophecy with a dawning sense of excitement as they began to realize the momentous significance of the vocation into which they were entering. 

© 2008 Mary Healy and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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