Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
— Mark 1:14b-15
The time is fulfilled, the time is now. Jesus' first words in the first gospel ring out as a revolutionary's call to personal and societal transformation in the face of oppression. Everything about Mark's gospel confronts authority, whether Roman imperialism or Jewish law, neither is sacred. The very use of the term gospel in the opening line1 is an indicator of what is to come. The greek term euangelion which also translates as 'good news' or 'glad tidings' was used by the Roman rulers to announce their own triumphs. e.g. battle victories or royal births. Mark appropriates the term, thus immediately asking the reader to reassess what is considered 'good'. The radical, and risky nature of this challenge in the context of Rome should not be underestimated. Mark's Jesus was not setting out to appease authority, nor integrate in any way. The first2 gospel is a political manifesto for grass-roots revolution.
The text uses subversive language, words and symbols, to conceal their true meanings from the imperial authorities. Stories of possession, parables of land ownership and tenant farming are metaphors for occupation and non-violent resistance.
The gospels generally, and Mark's gospel in particular offer lessons of relevance to the efforts of modern day leaders and change agents attempting to transform the world of work, and bring humanity and compassion back to our very inhuman and process-oriented workplaces. The first step in this process is to tune in to the kairos:3 the critical, or correct moment, and to say, Now is the time. And then immediately to get into action.4
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; Mark 1:1
2 Mark was written around 65-70 AD, Matthew and Luke around 75-85 AD and John in 90-110 AD
3 The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairos. The former refers to chronological or sequential time, while the latter signifies a proper or opportune time for action. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative, permanent nature. — from Wikipedia
4 David Guzik has written an excellent analysis of the opening chapter of Mark, which I highly recommend for an understanding of place, time and context: Mark 1: the beginning of the gospel, Enduring Word, 2018