In the Gospel today we hear the very first words spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. These are words upon which the trajectory of humanity changed unalterably and forever. “Repent believe in the good news”. Understanding the Gospel today is possible by looking at four things: belief, metanoia, calling, and relationship.
The word used in the Greek for believe is an active verb not a noun – not just a condition of intellectual ascent but of something done. In 1859, Charles Blondin, walked an 1100 ft long tightrope over the Niagra River 160 feet above falls. Not once, but several times - blindfolded, on stilts, pushing a wheelbarrow. In 1860 the Duke of Newcastle watched Blondin walk the tightrope with a wheelbarrow filled with a sack of potatoes. Blondin asked the Duke if the Duke thought that Blondin could cross with a person in the wheelbarrow. The Duke responded with a hearty yes but refused the offer to get in and cross with Blondin. When Blondin asked the gathered crowd if there was anyone who would get in the wheelbarrow, no one answered.
Eventually elderly woman ambled out of the crowd and was helped into the wheelbarrow – it was Blondin’s mother – the only one willing to put their life in Blondin’s hands. I think this is the best example of the Greek word for believe in today’s Gospel; lively faith as action – faith as something done. It was Blondin’s mother who helped everyone see the magnitude of her son’s actions. How very much like our Mother Mary who helps us all to a place of deeper understanding and faith regarding the work of her Son, Jesus. Mary’s belief was cause for a life profoundly altered by complete trust in the work of her Son. Her vision was changed, and she looked upon everything through the lens of her Son’s work to usher in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus’ command today, is answered by repentance – metanoia – which can translate from the Greek several ways – my favorite: a change of mind – new way of seeing. I was looking the other day at pictures of flowers taken using ultraviolet light. It is a bee’s eye view of the flower. Bees see deeply into the violet spectrum– as much as we see in the other direction – into the red. Bee’s color vision sort of stops at Orange but sees deeply into the violet. The flower looks entirely different in that light. And for the bee, this gives the flower a different reality –a different functionality and purpose – different meaning.