The Lectionary Year of the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark is the earliest (and shortest) of our four gospels and likely served as a source for Matthew and Luke, and possibly even John. The author of the gospel is anonymous, but it was traditionally attributed to John Mark, the son of a certain Mary who provided for some of the early Christians in Jerusalem. He was also the cousin of Barnabas who temporarily accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey. Tradition also holds that he was an interpreter for Peter and thus locates him in Rome when Peter was martyred under Nero. Later traditions note the prominence of Mark in Alexandria, Egypt, where is remembered as its first bishop and was also said to be martyred.

Though we cannot be certain of many of those details, the author of this gospel does seem to be someone like that John Mark: a person who was Jewish but familiar with the Hellenistic culture; knew both Aramaic, which Jesus spoke, and Greek, in which the book is written; and had access to some of the earliest remembrances of Jesus. The gospel appears to reflect a situation in which Christians are experiencing some kind of persecution, and so a setting in Rome during the persecutions of Nero is one likely context. Most scholars agree that this gospel was written shortly before or after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. In the midst of such turbulence, Mark's gospel is a reminder to Christians that following Jesus is a way that leads to suffering and service, not power and glory.

Sermons in Year B 2023-2024

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  • Advent IB, 3 December 2023--Lessons and Carols for Advent based on the O Antiphons

  • Advent IIB, 10 December 2023: Preparing for a New Beginning

    The texts for this Second Sunday of Advent remind us that we are not just waiting and watching and preparing for Christmas Day . . . we are waiting and watching and preparing for Christ to come. There's a difference.

  • Advent IIIB, 17 December 2023: To Whom Does Your Life Point?

    The gospel lesson for this Sunday suggests that there are two ways of being in the world--an interrogator or a witness.

  • Advent IVB, 24 December 2023: Let It be

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  • Christmas Eve, Sunday, 24 December 2023: Message from the Manger

    Even as worldwide despair and anger threaten to engulf us, we hear good news of great joy for all people.

  • Epiphany Sunday, 7 January 2024: The Star Knows the Way

    The magi didn't know the destination but they did know the way.

  • Baptism of Our Lord, 14 January 2024: Baptism--Grace Outpoured

    Using Mark's version of Jesus' Baptism to try to understand our baptism.

  • Epiphany III, 21 January 2024: Follow Me

    What does it mean to leave everything behind to follow?

  • Epiphany IV, 28 January 2024: What does Jesus have to do with us?

    A man with an "unclean spirit" walks into a synagogue and begins crying out to Jesus and the people are astounded by . . . Jesus!

  • Transfiguration Year B, 11 February 2024: Thresholds

    Two stories of wonders and strangeness. Two stories that illustrate the precariousness of standing at a threshold.

  • Ash Wednesday, 14 February 2024: What's in Your Heart?

    Jesus knows our tendency to store up things that end up being nothing more than fool's gold.

  • Lent IB, 18 February 2024: In the wilderness

    The gospel of Mark's version of Jesus' time in the wilderness is short on many details but the ones that he includes are intriguing.