The Word This Week ~ 11 January 2015
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First Reading: Isaiah 55:1-11
In biblical times, kings often celebrated the inauguration of their reign by providing a great banquet for their people. Isaiah uses this metaphor to describe how God, the divine king, provides a rich banquet to invite Israel into relationship. Here is a gracious offer of mercy and peace, and of all happiness – what we might call abundant life.
The people of Israel should turn to God now ‘while he may be found ... while he is near’.
Second Reading: 1 John 5:1-9
The life of faith is like a life within family. God is the parent in this family; believers are brothers and sisters. As in any healthy family, the bonds strengthen through common observance of family parameters – here God’s commandments – which ‘are not burdensome’ (1john 5:3).
The references to water point primarily to the baptism that revealed Jesus as the Christ and Son of Gad at the beginning of his earthly ministry.
Gospel Reading: Mark 1:7-11
The readings of the Christmas season offer a progression in the story of the manifestation of Jesus as the Chosen One of God. This reading begins with John the Baptist – the one who goes before Jesus – preparing people’s hearts to hear the good news when the time comes. He preaches conversion, echoing the call to return of the First Reading. But Mark’s main concern in this passage is Jesus’ identity. The signs that accompany his baptism acknowledge Jesus as the beloved Son of God. The water and Spirit references of the Second Reading resonate here, revealing Jesus for who and what he is as he embarks on his earthly ministry.