Mark’s Gospel starts directly with the Proclamation ‘the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the Prophet’. Mark in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, fast forwards us to the very end of his own Gospel, to the Centurion declaring ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’.

John the Baptist appears in the Wilderness of Judah, preaching a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He appears in the very place where Israel once crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. People from the area went out to him and were baptised by him.

John was dressed as a Prophet, Elijah-like, his clothing camel’s hair. His diet sparse but tasty, locusts and wild honey.

John preached ‘after me comes One who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I, John, baptise you with Water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit’.

At this time, Jesus left Nazareth, in Galilee, and came down to the Desert of Judah, east of Jerusalem, beyond the Jordan. Had he perhaps heard about the Baptiser from Andrew, one of John’s Disciples??? No matter He asks John, his cousin, to baptise him.

As John was baptising Jesus, the heavens were torn apart and God’s Spirit descended on Jesus, like a dove, and a Voice came from Heaven ‘You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased’.

We know Jesus immediately launched, or was launched, into his Mission and Ministry. We also know John the Baptist continued his radical Ministry and came to a sad end. Herod Antipas had the Prophet arrested and put in prison. ( Do I /we know how many prisoners are there today in Irish prisons. Earlier this year there were 4583. ) Herod had the Prophet beheaded.

Matthew reports that John’s disciples took the body and buried it, then told Jesus about it. No need for the Birth narrative in Mark’s Gospel. The Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptiser, announces a new kind of Divine – Human communication.

Catherine Campbell OP