July 26, 2012

17th Sunday - B

John 6: 1-15

The New Law-Giver, and the New Passover

John wrote this passage with many details to point out that Jesus is the new law-giver.

It was on the mountain where Moses received the Law from God, then gave it to the people.  Here, this passage begins with Jesus going up to the mountain.  He then sits down, taking the position of one who teaches.

Next, comes the time of the event, it is near Passover.  In the Jewish religious tradition, the celebration of Passover recalls the events that God freed their ancestors from slavery, which highlights the crossing of the sea, and the manna God gave them in the desert.

This passage reports in details the miracle during which Jesus gives people food to satisfy their hunger, just as Moses gave the people manna.

The chapter will continue (though we don't read it here) with the disciples crossing the sea in a boat, struggling against strong winds.  Jesus later crosses walking on the water.  Once Jesus is in the boat, it "immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading." (6: 16-21).

In both the miracle of feeding the people and the crossing of the sea, Jesus surpasses Moses in his power and the effects of the miracles.

There are also the difference between the manna that Moses gave and the food from Jesus.  In the case of the manna, anything that was kept overnight, against Moses' command, would perish (Exodus 16).  Here, "Jesus' gift must not be lost.... They have not perished; they are still available." [1]

And that gift of Jesus is still available to us today in the Church.  We continue to live and are nourished by the actions of Jesus, again recorded carefully here by John.  In the celebration of the Eucharist, Jesus continues to "take" the bread, gives thanks, and distributes his gift to us, the gift that lasts forever.

[1] Francis J. Moloney, SDB., The Gospel of John, Sacra Pagina Series.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 198.

17th Sunday - B (July 29, 2012)


July 21, 2012

16th Sunday - B (July 22, 2012)

Mark 6: 30-34

A Heart that can be Moved with Pity for the People

Last week, we read of Jesus summoning the apostles, giving them authority, then sending them out.

Today, we hear that they return and "report" to Jesus what "they (emphasis is mine) had done and taught."  Apparently, they have quickly forgotten by whose authority they have done all that.  More interesting, the verb used here by Mark would probably be more accurately translated as "announce" [1].  Another possible translation, though not as strong, is "tell' [2] .

Imagine, those who received authority and sent now come back and "tell," or "announce" to Jesus what they had done and taught.  

They let what they wrongly perceive as their own success get into their heads.

Jesus, meanwhile, sees their needs for some rest and takes care of them.  

Next, he sees a vast crowd who are "like sheep without a shepherd," and "his heart was moved with pity for them."  

If we continue to read this Chapter 6 of Mark, we will see even more clearly the difference between Jesus and the disciples.
Soon, the disciples notice that it is getting late, and the people who have come to listen to Jesus have nothing to eat. So, what is their solution? They tell Jesus to send the people away, “This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

When Jesus tells them to “Give them some food yourselves,”  they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” (6: 35-37)

What happens to "all they had done and taught"?

Haven't we all made that mistake when we allowed our successes, failures, self-interests, or worries blind us from the people around us and their needs?

[1]  Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002; p. 128.
[2] New Jerusalem Bible translation.

16th Sunday - B (July 22, 2012)


July 14, 2012

15th Sunday - B (July 15, 2012)

Mark 6: 7-13

Nothing Will Stop Jesus from Doing His Mission

Last week we learned that Jesus was rejected by those who knew him in his own native place.  Mark reports that "he was not able to perform any mighty deed there apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them."  Mark then adds, "He was amazed at their lack of faith."

That last sentence we heard a week ago is the first part of verse 6 in this chapter in Mark's Gospel.

Reading the second half of the same verse, we find Jesus going "around to the villages in the vicinity teaching." (This part is not included in the Gospel passage for either last Sunday or this Sunday).

Rejection and the lack of faith of people in one area, even if it is his own native place, does not stop Jesus from continuing the mission that the Father has sent him to accomplish.

Moreover, Jesus is seen here in this passage sending out the Twelve to do what he has been doing up to this point in his minitry.  They are to preach repentance, drive out demons and cure the sick.  [1]

In a sense, the lack of faith and rejection of the people of Nazareth does not stop Jesus from doing what he is sent to do.  Through his Apostles, Jesus is now doing even more. 

How do I react when things get tough or when people reject my efforts in doing what Jesus calls me to do?

[1] Francis J. Moloney, This is the Gospel of the Lord - Year B.  Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul Publications,1993; p. 164.

15th Sunday - B (July 15, 2012)


Image source: http://dailytruthbase.blogspot.com

July 4, 2012

14th Sunday - B (July 8, 2012)

Mark 6:1-6a

 To See God's Works Is Not Enough

Mark, in a sense, sets the stage for the rejection of Jesus from his own town folks a few chapters back. In the very first chapter of his writing, Mark reported Jesus' first time teaching at the synagogue in Capernaum and commented, "

The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes" (1:22)

Jesus is then found traveling across Galilee preaching and healing. Mark sums up Jesus' ministry in these words, "He went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee" (1:39).

Then, when his name was so well-known, he had to "[remain] outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere" (1:39.

Next, for some time, Jesus left the area of the Jews and stayed in the territory of the Gentiles (5:1-20).

When he returned to Galilee, as we learned last week, " a large crowd gathered around him" (5:21). They even "followed him and pressed upon him" (5:24).

So by the time he returned to his hometown of Nazareth, here in Chapter 6, people understandably have heard of his authority in teaching and power in healing. They even acknowledge his "wisdom" and "the mighty deeds ... wrought by his hands."

Yet, they could not go beyond their perception of him. They may have heard of or even seen with their own eyes Jesus' work and power, yet, they do not know him.  In the end, they have only heard and known of him.

The disciples, on the contrary, have followed Jesus. Not only have they seen his works, but they have also stayed with him and listened to him. Throughout the Gospel of Mark, we will see that the disciples' faith is still weak. They will falter. Yet, right after this passage, in 6:7, which we'll hear next week, Jesus sends them out to preach and to heal.

Here is the key of discipleship. It is not enough to see the works of Jesus. One must follow him, spend time with him, and listen to him.

14th Sunday - B (July 8, 2012)


Image: William Brassey Hole, http://www.wikigallery.org