Our spiritual journey

Sister Ruth Bolarte

Throughout the liturgical year the Catholic Church celebrates the ministry of Jesus from His Incarnation to Pentecost, and the expectation of His second coming. The Sunday readings and solemnities are spanided into a three-year cycle. The cycles start the first week of Advent and each cycle has a main synoptic Gospel read throughout the liturgy. Cycle A is based in the readings of Matthew; B of Mark; and C of Luke.

At the end of November we start a new liturgical year. During this year we will be reflecting in our salvation history according to St. Mark.

There are many ways to tell a story. Some of us prefer a synthesis of the story that includes only the main theme without much intervening detail. Others prefer seemingly unending details.

Of the four Gospels, Mark is the shortest and is considered the oldest of all. This Gospel emphasizes the humanity of Jesus and His disciples. Mark presents us a Jesus who performs miracles, expresses sadness, anger, and indignation. We also see how the disciples cannot fully comprehend the words and message of Jesus. As we read Mark, we can identify that the person of Jesus has experienced the same sadness, joys, and concerns we go through.

If we were to read the Gospel from the beginning to the end, we would recognize a very dramatic story with suspense and realism, in which the characters long to understand the mystery of the person of Jesus. The suspense is created because none of the human characters in the Gospel can understand the identity of Jesus. Gradually, through the predictions of His passion and death Jesus reveals His mission and identity. Mark leads us to understand that Jesus’ identity is intimately related to His destiny or mission.

As in any other drama, we can distinguish an introduction, plot, climax, and resolution. The mission of Jesus was to embrace willingly the cross for us. His death and resurrection are the climax points in the Gospel. It is the centurion who finally expresses who Jesus is: “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Through His example, the Jesus in Mark teaches us that service is the essence of discipleship: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Only when we comprehend that Jesus, the Son of God, had to die on the cross and then he resurrected by the Father can we grasp His identity and follow His example of love and total service.

Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M., is the director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization in Philadelphia.