In this gospel lesson of St. Mark 1:1-8, also known as the Sunday before the Theophany of Christ. We hear of St. John the Baptist baptizing in the wilderness, St. Mark mentions in verse 1, beginning of course meaning Jesus Christ baptism and the start of His earthly ministry which includes St. John paving the way for Christ and His (Jesus) baptism by St. John. Also, in verse 1, the word gospel not to be confused with the gospel of St. Mark, but about Jesus Christ gospel, His life on earth which includes His two natures: divine and human. In verse 2 “prepare thy way” referring to the Baptist preparing the way for the Messiah (Jesus) coming so that He (Jesus) will begin His ministry. Theologians believe His ministry was only three and a half years up to his crucifixion. Keep in mind that St. John was the last prophet in the Old Testament that will eventually lead to the foretelling and fulfillment of Jesus Christ the Messiah’s coming. In verse 4, St. Mark speaks of St. John preaching about baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins referring to his preaching of contrition, which is the essence of this gospel lesson, hence we could easily say he (St. John) was the first Father Confessor before Christ’s coming, whereby it will lead to Jesus’s harmony with us. In verse 5, St. Mark tells us, everyone from the country of Judea and the people of Jerusalem went to St. John to be baptized and their sins forgiven, thus he (St. John) we could say that he was the so-called “superstar” and figurehead to the Jewish faithful, and that is why we say in the Dismissal prayer at the end of the Divine Liturgy “of the honorable, glorious, Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John. Finally, in verse 8, St. John tells the people he baptizes them with water, but He (Jesus) will baptize them with the Holy Spirit meaning in order to receive the Holy Spirit, you must be baptized with Christ and dead with Him. In our beautiful Orthodox baptism, we say, “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” and “the servant of God is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen (بإسم الآب والإبن والروح القدس إلهٍ واحد آمين).”
In the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen (Which is what this gospel lesson is about).
What does this gospel lesson mean? It is the heart; the essence of what St. John is preaching about which is the coming of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and that he will (St. John) pave the way for Him (Jesus). As I noted in the gospel lesson of St. Mark 1:1-8, I mentioned the verses that coincided with our Orthodox baptism and Liturgy such as, “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”, “the servant of God is baptized.” With that being said, I like to add, “as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ”, which is part of the procession in the Orthodox baptism and I say to you the unbelievers that say “how can there be a triune God? Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?” I would say to them, “Look in the New Testament of St. Mark 1:10-12- and immediately coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, You are My beloved Son, in whom I’m well pleased. Immediately the Spirit drove Him to the wilderness.” These unbelievers that only believe in one God head, such as the heavenly father so to speak and cannot accept that there was a God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Of course, these people that do not accept it, also are the ones that reject the New Testament, but only accept the Old Testament which is the Old Testament foretelling of the coming of the Messiah. We as Christians who accept the Old and the New Testament whereby Jesus Christ has already come as we now wait for Christ’s second coming. Moreover, we must prepare ourselves spiritually and be prepared to be ready for that event to happen. Unlike the maidens in the beginning of Holy Week where their lanterns were only half filled and were not ready.