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'God's Household' in Mark's Gospel

'God's household' in Mark's Gospel

Jesus Christ
Oral and written tradition
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of John
The meaning for today

From ‘Notes on the Formation of the Gospels’, by John Wijngaards;
published in Background to the Gospels (Bangalore & Ann Arbor 1981)
and Together in My Name (London 1991).

How did the Gospel of Mark visualise the Church, the community of believers? From the way it presents Jesus and the disciples we can infer that it looked on the Church as a new family of brothers and sisters gathered around Christ.

His mother and relatives arrived. Standing outside the house, they sent a message asking him to come out. A lot of people were sitting around him. They told him: ‘Your mother and your relatives are outside, asking for you’.

He replied: ‘Who is my mother? Who are my relatives?’

Looking around at those who sat there, he said:‘These are my mother and relatives. For whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister and mother.’ (Mark 3:31-35)

Those who give up everything to follow Jesus, including their physical families, will receive a hundredfold of brothers, sisters, parents and children in the end-time family of Jesus (Mark 29-31). Jesus family is a community of service (Mark 10,42-45) and a watchful community (Mark 13,32-37). The community is open and egalitarian in nature.

The Gospel reflectshouse churches, that is: communities meeting in residential homes. They were close-knit, small groups who would mirror themselves in such images as a flock of sheep (Mark 6,34; 14,27) or a party travelling in a boat (Mark 4,35-41; 6,46-52; 8,14-21).

Rejected by the Jews and misunderstood by Hellenists, these small communities would tend to adopt the strategies of persecuted minorities: shunning political involvement, guarding community rituals from intruders and recruiting new converts through personal contact. In many respects the Church envisaged in Marks Gospel is what we call nowadays a basic Christian community.

About this aspect of the Gospel of Mark, read: J.R.DONAHUE, The Theology and Setting of Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Marquette 1981, esp. pp.31-56; E.TROCMÉ, The Formation of the Gospel according to Mark, Philadelphia 1975, pp. 162-163; E.BEST, Following Jesus: Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Sheffield 1981, pp.208-245; H.C.KEE, Community of the New Age, London 1977, esp. pp.78-96, 106-115.

John Wijngaards

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