Epiphany is the ultimate bad-guy story.
Genealogies suggest a beautiful inevitability even amid political impossibility.
Anyone who is familiar with Star Trek knows about the Borg, a seemingly soulless race of cyborgs. The Borg’s main task is to assimilate other species and bring them into the Collective. Science fiction geeks everywhere know the Borg’s catchphrase: “Resistance is futile.” Resistance is futile. Jesus is sitting around talking to a crowd when some Pharisees come by. Looking agitated, they make their way to Jesus.
The Old Testament and gospel readings for Epiphany function as point and counterpoint. Isaiah offers a word of great comfort to those who have been so long in darkness. Impoverished as the hearers have been, honor and fortune are on their way. It's a message of rejoicing: the light that has dawned will make all who see it radiant.
Mark's account of the beheading of John the Baptist is a sordid tale of anger and revenge, resentment and death. Jesus is never even mentioned. The key to understanding why this sorry saga shows up where it does in Mark's Gospel is its relation both to the growing fame of Jesus and the success of his disciples. John's death foreshadows Jesus' death and the deaths of many of the early followers.