LITURGICAL YEAR B - THE GOSPEL OF MARK
The liturgical year begins with First Sunday of Advent, which starts four Sundays before Christmas (December 25). In this Liturgical year which begins on the 27 of November, 2011, Circle B, the Church meditates on the Gospel of Mark and uses it for most of Sunday readings (St. Mattthew for Circle A and St. Luke for Circle C). St. John, who appears several times in the Liturgy of the Word of almost all three years, is offered in a special way during the time of the Lord's Passion.
YEAR A -MEDITATING ON THE GOSPEL OF MArk*
Mark the Evangelist
Mark the Evangelist is mentioned some eight times in the New Testament. He is the cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10). When the Apostle Paul writes his letter to the Colossians from his prison in Rome, he mentions that Mark is there with him (Col. 4:10). He also mentions in his letter to Philemon that Mark is one of his fellow workers (Phiemon 24). Peter addressed him as "my son Mark" (1 Peter 5:13). It is very likely that Peter was the one who brought Mark to conversion and raised him up in the faith. Mark was an associate of Peter and likely wrote his gospel in Rome where Peter was based. Mark wrote it in Greek. It was likely written for Gentile readers in general, and for the Christians at Rome in particular. The gospel is usually dated between 65 and 75 AD, sometime shortly after Peter's martyrdom in Rome in 64 AD
The Gospel according to Mark
Among the four gospels, Mark's account is unique in many ways. It is the shortest account and seems to be the earliest. Both Luke and Matthew use much of Mark's text. Luke’s account contains over half of the verses in Mark’s account (some 350 verses out of a total 660 verses in Mark). Unlike Luke and Matthew who begin their accounts with the events surrounding the birth of the Messiah, Mark begins his account with Jesus' public ministry and the mission of John the Baptist. Mark leaves no doubt as to who Jesus was. In the very first sentence of his account he proclaims that Jesus is the "Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1). Jesus was not simply a man among men, but one who caused great wonder, amazement, and awe upon those who encountered him. "They were astonished at his teaching" (Mk 1:22); "they were all amazed" (Mk 1:27); "they were utterly astounded" (Mk 6:51); "the disciples were amazed at his words" (Mk 10:24), etc.
Jesus in the Gospel of Mark
Mark stresses Jesus as "Teacher" and as the "Servant of God". Jesus is regularly addressed as "Teacher" by his disciples (Mk 4:38 ) and by those who seek his help (Mk 5:35). He also uses the Hebrew form of teacher, "Rabbi" (Mk 9:5). Ironically Mark gives little of Jesus' teaching compared with Luke and Matthew. Mark mainly stresses what Jesus did. He depicts Jesus' ceaseless activity and his power over sickness, disease, death, and the work of evil spirits.
Mark also displays both Jesus' divinity and his humanity. For example, Mark tells us that Jesus is "the carpenter" (Mk 6:3). Matthew softens it a bit by saying that Jesus is the "carpenter's son" (Matt. 13:55). Mark even tells us about Jesus' emotions. Jesus was moved with "compassion" (Mk 6:34); he "sighed" (Mk 7:34; 8:12); he "marveled" at the unbelief of his own townsfolk (Mk 6:6); he "looked" upon the rich young man and "loved him" (Mk 10:21). Mark also adds vivid details that the other gospel writers leave out. For example, he describes Jesus' tenderness as he took the little children "in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them" (Mk 10:16). On another occasion Mark describes Jesus "asleep on a cushion" in the stern of the boat as the apostles feared for their lives when caught in the storm at sea (Mk 4:38).
THE MEANING OF THE LITURGICAL YEAR
• The Liturgical Year celebrates the Mystery of Christ
By preaching the Church “announces” “the whole mystery of Christ” (CD 12) and with the Liturgy it “celebrates it presenting the sacred memory (SC 102). In such a way it makes present today “the unfathomable treasure of Christ” (Eph 3, 8 ff; cf. 1, 18; 2, 7): his signs of salvation, with which the faithful come into contact in order to draw from it the grace of salvation. The Liturgical Year which has its “source” and its “summit” in the Paschal Mystery is articulated into five “periods of time” which have a special relationship with the diverse moments of the Mystery of Christ (SC 10; LG 11). Therefore, they follow a progressive order: Advent and Christmas; Lent and the Passover or Easter; Ordinary Time.
• Time of Advent and of Christmas
Advent is a time of preparation with a twofold characteristic: it recalls the first coming of the Son of God in humility and pre- announces the second coming in glory: it is a time of active waiting, of expectation, of desire, of prayer, of evangelization, of joy. Christmas is a time of joyful contemplation of the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of his first manifestations, who has come for our salvation “man among men”. During this time Mary is particularly celebrated as “Mother of God”.
• Time of Lent and of Passover or Easter
Lent is a time of preparation the purpose of which is to guide to a more intense and gradual participation in the Paschal Mystery. During this time the catechumens are accompanied through the various degrees of Christian initiation, and the faithful through the living memory of Baptism and Penance. The Passover or Easter is the summit of the Liturgical Year, from which all the other parts draw their efficacy of salvation, it is the fulfilment of the redemption of humanity and of perfect glorification of God: it is the destruction of sin and of death, communication of resurrection and of life.
• Ordinary Time
During this long period of time, which has a first stage between Christmas Time and Lent, and develops more extensively from Pentecost to the following Advent, is a global celebration of the mystery of Christ, which is taken up again and deepened in many of its particular aspects.
Already, we can say that Sundays – “The Day of the Lord” – are the “Weekly Passover or Easter” and therefore, a living grafting into the central nucleus of the mystery of Christ throughout the whole year; but then the Weeks (33 and 34) develop through an intense and continued recourse to the Bible the deepening of small cycles of the mystery of Christ, offering these to the meditation of the faithful in order that this may become a stimulus to the action in the Church and in the world.
Liturgies celebrated during the different seasons of the liturgical year have distinctive music and specific readings, prayers, and rituals. All of these work together to reflect the spirit of the particular season. The colors of the vestments that the priest wears during the liturgy also help express the character of the mysteries being celebrated.
White, the color of joy and victory, is used for the seasons of Easter and Christmas. It is also used for the feasts of Our Lord, for feasts of Mary, the angels, and for saints who are not martyrs. Gold may also be used on solemn occasions.
Red (the color of blood) is used on days when we celebrate the passion of Jesus on Passion Sunday and Good Friday. It is also used for the birthday feasts of the apostles and evangelists and for the celebrations of martyrs. Red (the color of fire) recalls the Holy Spirit and is used on Pentecost and for the sacrament of Confirmation.
Green, seen everywhere in plants and trees, symbolizes life and hope and is used during Ordinary Time.
The colors violet or purple in Advent help us to remember that we are preparing for the coming of Christ. Lent, the season of penance and renewal, also uses the colors violet or purple.
Rose may be used on the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday. It expresses the joy of anticipation for Christmas and Easter, respectively.