Bible and Bible Study: November 2003 Archives

Sharing from Lectio--The Gospel of Mark


In case you haven't noticed, I'm not in any real hurry to get through the Gospel of Mark. The pace is uncannily slow, and yet, every time I open up the Gospel this first chapter screams at me to spend more time and to truly understand the message intended for me. I offer the following not as exegesis or a pretence of some profound explication of the realities of scripture, but as a model of what one can do in the course of lectio and to encourage all to give it a try--daily if possible. Always check your conclusions and "revelations" against the truth revealed in the treasury of the Magisterium, but listen to the Spirit of God breathed out through the words of Scripture as well. The two cannot conflict, and so, if you come to some conclusion counter to that of the Church, discard it as a fancy, a momentary aberration of thought in the course of deep meditation. And always pray and ask God how you might apply what you have gained in the course of your meditation and prayer to the betterment of your life in God. He reveals what He reveals for a reason.

You'll note in the excerpt below, three different movements from three different times of prayer over this scripture. I excerpt to remove much of what is entirely personal and only share the things that may have broader implications and utility.

A Sharing from Lection on the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 1

Mark 1: 7-8 The Preaching of John the Baptist

7 And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Now we know that these are not the only words the Baptist preached. One wonders what else he was saying at the time. Whatever it was, it compelled a great many people to make a long and hazardous trip into the desert to hear him. He had a powerful and persuasive voice and a way of conveying the urgency of the coming kingdom.

The vast sands of the parched wilderness stretch out to touch the deep blue sky. The river itself is a silver gash, alive with ripples. Where are these people in their masses and hordes coming from? What truth do they see in this strange man? And how do I learn to see the same thing? How can I look past the merely unpleasing and see what God is doing? How do I learn not to seek the favor of others by agreeing where agreement is not required? We all must, to some degree begin or become prophetic and our setvice is to all the world, but most particularly we are called to witness to the efficacy of repentence--we best proclaim the Father's love for us as repentant sinners. Our joy is in the Lord who was at this moment in the narrative still unknown.

[2]So here is the problem for each of us--we need to find the desert in which we must dwell to better hear the sweet name of the Lord who redeems us. He speaks to us continually, and we don't hear it--we long to hear his voice and yet we stop our ears against the sound of it. I fear failure so much that often I do not even try--the cost seems too high. The cost is nothing less than all that I am and all that I have.

[3]Repentance and forgiveness go hand-in-hand

From Barclay's Commetary on the Gospel of Mark

A man must make confession to God. The end of pride is the beginning of forgiveness. It is when a man says, "I have sinned," that God gets the chance to say, "I forgive." It is not the man who desires to meet God on equal terms who will discover forgiveness, but the man who kneels in humble contrition and whispers through his shame, "God be merciful to me a sinner."

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I delight in these finely etched translations of Mary Sidney Herbert. There is something magnificent in the way they capture the essence of the psalm in tightly metrical verse. These could truly be put to music and sound most wonderful.

Psalm 52
Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, 1599

TYRANT, why swell'st thou thus,
Of mischief vaunting?
Since help from God to us
Is never wanting.

Lewd lies thy tongue contrives,
Loud lies it soundeth;
Sharper than sharpest knives
With lies it woundeth.

Falsehood thy wit approves,
All truth rejected:
Thy will all vices loves,
Virtue neglected.

Not words from cursed thee,
But gulfs are poured;
Gulfs wherein daily be
Good men devoured.

Think'st thou to bear it so?
God shall displace thee;
God shall thee overthrow,
Crush thee, deface thee.

The just shall fearing see
These fearful chances,
And laughing shoot at thee
With scornful glances.

Lo, lo, the wretched wight,
Who God disdaining,
His mischief made his might,
His guard his gaining.

I as an olive tree
Still green shall flourish:
God's house the soil shall be
My roots to nourish.

My trust in his true love
Truly attending,
Shall never thence remove,
Never see ending.

Thee will I honour still,
Lord, for this justice;
There fix my hopes I will
Where thy saints' trust is.

Thy saints trust in thy name,
Therein they joy them:
Protected by the same,
Naught can annoy them.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Bible and Bible Study category from November 2003.

Bible and Bible Study: October 2003 is the previous archive.

Bible and Bible Study: February 2004 is the next archive.

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