The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 1:7-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2016

Text in red are my additions.

Mk 1:7 And he preached, saying: There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.

after me. St John the Baptist was born about six months before our Lord. As no Jew was allowed to preach before his thirtieth year, Jesus began His public life about six months later than St John. I doubt the phrase there cometh after me one, &c, has anything to do with age. More likely it’s picking up on the theme of “before” in verses 2~Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee. John is prophesying the coming fulfillment of the foundational purpose of his ministry. Indeed, in Mk 1:9 Jesus will come to the already ministering  Baptist, be baptized by him and then start his own ministry for which the Baptist’s was a prelude.

mightier than I. Note the Baptist’s humility, Jesus is “the Mighty One.” The Greek word ισχυροτερος (ischyroteros) means mighty or powerful one. As the Mighty One Jesus has come to subdue “the strong man” (ισχυρου = ischyrou) Satan (see Mk 3:23-27).

to stoop down. A minute detail proper to St Mark.

and loose. To loose and carry the shoes was the work of the slave, who performed this office for his master, when the latter entered a temple or banqueting hall.

Mk 1:8 I have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

I have baptised you with water, etc. The Baptist exalts Christ’s baptism, which conferred the Holy Ghost, and regenerated the soul.

Mar 1:9 And it came to pass, in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in Jordan.

In those days. Either an indefinite formula referring to St John’s preaching, or more probably a reference to the days of our Lord’s hidden life at Nazareth, which ended when He attained His thirtieth year.

Nazareth. A small despised city on the southern slopes of Galilee. “Can any thing of good come from Nazareth?” (St John 1:46).

in the Jordan. One local tradition points out an ancient ford, near Succoth, as the spot where Jesus was baptized, another refers it to a ford near Jericho. The latter was easier of access.

Mar 1:10 And forthwith coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens open and the Spirit as a dove descending and remaining on him.

forthwith = immediately; both favourite words of St Mark. This adverb, as employed by St Mark, does not always express uninterrupted sequence. Mark’s repeated use of the various forms of the Greek word εὐθύς (= euthus), along with his chronic use of “and,” gives the narrative a fast paced feel and communicates a sense of urgency to it. 

He saw the heavens opened. “He” refers to Jesus Himself, but St John also saw the rent in the heavens, and probably the people present perceived the miracle.

Mar 1:11 And there came a voice from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

a voice from heaven. During our Saviour s lifetime a miraculous voice was heard three times :

(a) At His Baptism: Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased.
(b) At the Transfiguration: This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him.
(c) In the Temple during Holy Week: I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

In verses 10 and 11 note the explicit mention of the three Persons of the Blessed
Trinity. God the Father spoke from Heaven. God the Son stood in the river. God
the Holy Ghost descended “in bodily shape as a dove.”

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