7 December 2008 - Fr Terry Tastard

 Each of the gospels has its own characteristics. For this new liturgical year we focus particularly on the gospel according to Mark, which is written in a rather brisk, direct style. You can see this in the very first words, where we read, 'The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.' A direct, no-nonsense beginning, you might say, and how much is packed into these few words!

The beginning now here is something thought-provoking. For although the Gospel according to Mark has a clear beginning, it has no clear end. If you look at the end of the gospel, you will see that it ends with the women who have discovered the empty tomb running away in perplexity. This is not accidental. From the resurrection onwards we carry the story forward ourselves in our own lives. Today we hear the beginning but the story of Christ and his people goes on right up to us and the present moment. This beginning has never ended for God is making all things new, even us in our tired, crowded lives.

Then we are told that this is Good News. I wonder what would be good news for us today. Promotion? Winning the lottery? Someone saying, 'I love you'? Yes, of course, but each of these would be special for us and would necessarily exclude others. Truly good news would be good news for everybody. The best of good news would be something which everybody could count a blessing. The coming of the Christ is good news because it says that God's love is given freely, will never cease and does not have to be earned.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God There was a clear understanding in Middle Eastern society (it still exists today) that a man may send his son to represent him in a difficult situation. Sometimes the son goes into a situation where he is at risk, as a demonstration of the good will of the father. Today we hear that Christ comes into our world, a world of risk and compromise, a place of vulnerability and suffering. Christ will share these things with us. And as he does so, we will come to realise that the promise of the ages is fulfilled in him: God is with us and God is for us.

Fr Terry Tastard is Parish Priest of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Brook Green, London W6.

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