The ABCs of the Liturgical Year

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

Last Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, was the beginning of a new Church year, also known as a liturgical year. The Church selects the Sunday Gospel readings for each year on a three-year cycle, giving each year a letter—A, B, or C. This is year B. Each of these three years features one particular Gospel. Almost every Sunday Gospel reading during ordinary times will come from the featured Gospel. Year A reads from the Gospel of Matthew. Year C features the Gospel of Luke. Since this is Year B, the Gospel of Mark will be proclaimed from beginning to end.

Mark’s Gospel appears second in the New Testament preceded by Matthew. However, Mark wrote his Gospel first. It is the first written account of the words and deeds of Jesus. Being the first it is the shortest and simplest of the four Gospels. Matthew and Luke actually used Mark as the basis for their Gospels. In fact, both directly copied over 300 verses from Mark.

Mark is mentioned eight times in the New Testament. From his prison in Rome Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth that Mark is his caretaker. Peter, in one of his letters, claims Mark to be “my son Mark.” Mark traveled with Peter and Peter probably converted Mark. Scholars speculate that after Peter died, Mark wrote down his memories of what Peter told him about Jesus. If this is correct, then we are very close to the actual experience of being with the Lord.

As the year progresses, we read the Gospel straight through. However, it is best to have an overview of the contents of Mark’s account. There are two short videos available on the Internet that give an excellent and concise outline of Mark. Both videos (see links below) are from “The Bible Project.”


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