14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, B Sunday Connection

Sunday Connection

Sunday Connection

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. The Sunday Connection provides useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.


Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, July 8, 2018


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Ezekiel 2:2-5
The Lord sends the prophet Ezekiel to the Israelites.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 123:1-2,3-4
A prayer to God for mercy

Second Reading
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Paul bears insults and weakness for the sake of Christ.

Gospel Reading
Mark 6:1-6
Jesus is rejected in his hometown.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Gospel immediately follows upon last week's stories of the raising of Jairus's daughter and the healing of the woman with a hemorrhage. It sets the context of our Gospel readings for the next two weeks in which Jesus will extend the work of his ministry to his disciples.

Today's Gospel describes what many believe to have been the typical pattern of Jesus' ministry: teaching in the synagogue followed by acts of healing. In his hometown of Nazareth, the people are amazed by what they hear, but they also cannot comprehend how someone they know so well might move them so powerfully.

In this Gospel, we learn some interesting details about Jesus and his early life. Jesus' kinfolk know him to be a carpenter, an artisan who works in wood, stone, and metal. He probably learned this trade from his father. Family members of Jesus are also named. Mark describes Jesus as the son of Mary, which is an unusual designation. Adult males were more typically identified with the name of their fathers. It is unclear why Mark deviates from this custom.

Brothers and sisters of Jesus are also named. Scholars are divided on how to interpret this. As Catholics, we believe that Mary was and remained always a virgin, thus we do not believe that this Gospel refers to other children of Mary. Some have suggested that these family members might be Joseph's children from a previous marriage, but there is little evidence to support this. Others explain this reference by noting that the words brother and sister were often used to refer to other types of relatives, including cousins, nieces, and nephews.

This Gospel tells us that Jesus is hampered from performing miracles in Nazareth because of the people's lack of faith. Jesus is said to be surprised by this. He did not predict or foresee this rejection. In this detail we find a description of the very human side of Jesus.

This passage unfolds a continuing theme of Mark's Gospel: Who is Jesus? His kinfolk in Nazareth might know the carpenter, the son of Mary, but they do not know Jesus, the Son of God. Mark is foreshadowing Jesus' rejection by his own people, the people of Israel. He is also reflecting on and trying to explain the situation of the community for which he wrote. While many of the first Christians were Jewish, Christianity took hold and flourished in the Gentile community. Mark's community was mostly a Gentile community, who may have been experiencing persecution. By showing that Jesus himself was rejected, Mark consoles and reassures his first readers. He also prepares us to accept this possible consequence of Christian discipleship.
 

 


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:1-6
Jesus is rejected in his hometown.


Making the Connection (Grades 1, 2, and 3)

Young children develop their self-identity in the context of their family. In today's Gospel, we learn several details about Jesus' early life, but we also learn that we know Jesus best when we have faith in him as the Son of God.

Materials Needed

  • Paper and crayons

 Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Distribute crayons and paper and ask them to draw a picture of themselves and others in their family. Observe that family members often share similar traits and characteristics, but that each family member is unique. Invite each child to share his or her picture, asking each to talk about traits he or she shares with other members of his or her family and how he or she is unique.

  2. After everyone has had the opportunity to share, say: In today's Gospel, we learn some interesting information about Jesus' early life. Let's listen carefully so we can learn more about Jesus.

  3. Read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 6:1-6.

  4. Ask: What are some things that we learn about Jesus? (He is a carpenter; he is Mary's son; he has other relatives.) Explain that when this Gospel was written, the words brother and sister would be used to describe cousins or other relatives. Ask: What are some unique things that the people in Nazareth notice about Jesus? (They noticed that he had great wisdom and was able to do mighty deeds.)

  5. Say: This Gospel tells us that the people in Jesus' hometown, Nazareth, were amazed by the things that Jesus taught and the things he did, but they did not have faith that Jesus was God's Son, and so Jesus could not perform many miracles there. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and so Jesus can do great things in our lives.

  6. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for sending us his Son, Jesus. Pray together the Act of Faith.


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:1-6
Jesus is rejected in his hometown.


Making the Connection (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

At this stage of development, older children are beginning to define themselves in circles of relation beyond their immediate family. In Jesus' relations with his kinfolk in Nazareth, we learn that those who know Jesus best are those who have faith in him as the Son of God.

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Distribute paper and pencils and instruct the children to fold their papers to make three columns. Invite the children to prepare three lists, which are for their eyes only and will not be shared with the entire group. Give the following instructions: At the top of the first column, write Friends and list some things that your friends know about you. At the top of the second column, write Family and list some things that your family knows about you. At the top of the third column, write God and list some things that you believe no one knows about you, the things that are between you and God.

  2. Instruct the children to look over their lists and to consider the question, Who knows us best? Invite them to share their answers to this question and to give reasons why.

  3. Say: Today's Gospel raises a question about who knows Jesus best. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel and try to answer this question for ourselves.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 6:1-6.

  5. Ask: What does Jesus do in his hometown, Nazareth? (He teaches in the synagogue.) How do the people respond to Jesus' teaching? (Some are astonished; some wonder who this is; some took offense at Jesus' teaching.) What do some of the people of Nazareth seem to know about Jesus? (They seem to know his family and that Jesus is a carpenter.) You may want to talk about how we understand this Scripture when it talks about Jesus' brothers and sisters.

  6. Say: The people of Nazareth think they know a lot about Jesus. But they don't seem to know the most important thing. Many of them don't have faith in Jesus as the Son of God and question his authority to teach them. Therefore, Jesus cannot perform any miracles there. Jesus is amazed at their lack of faith.

  7. Conclude in prayer together, asking God to give us faith to know who Jesus really is, the Son of God who saves us from sin. Pray together the Act of Faith or the Apostles' Creed.


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:1-6
Jesus is rejected in his hometown.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

As young people demonstrate increasing levels of maturity, they experience changes in their relationships with others. Similarly, as Christians, we acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and that our faith has the power to change all our relationships with others.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people to describe the meaning of the phrase “Act your age.” Ask volunteers to identify situations in which this phrase might be spoken. Use these examples to discuss expectations that people have regarding the behavior of others.

  2. Now ask the young people to recall a time when a parent, teacher, or friend seemed surprised by an action that showed their maturity (for example, demonstrating a new ability, accepting a new responsibility, or showing independence). Ask: Why do you think these actions were a surprise to others? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Acknowledge that as young people grow to maturity, they experience adjustments in their relationships with others as expectations change.

  3. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear about how Jesus was received when he taught in the synagogue in his hometown. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel reading.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Mark 6:1–6.

  5. Ask: How do the people respond to Jesus’ teaching? (Some are astonished. Some wonder that he is the same person whom they thought they knew. Some took offense at him.) How might you explain this response to Jesus and his teaching? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What do some of the people of Nazareth know about Jesus? (They know that Jesus is a carpenter, and they know his family.) You may want to talk about how Catholics understand this Scripture passage that talks about Jesus’ brothers and sisters.

  6. Say: Because they do not recognize that Jesus is the Son of God, the people of Nazareth are surprised by Jesus’ teaching, and his actions among them are limited. Jesus is amazed at their lack of faith. As Christians, we acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, and this faith has the power to change all our relationships.

  7. Ask: How does faith in Jesus as the Son of God transform our relationship with God and with one another? (Accept all reasonable answers, for example: Jesus saves us from sin and restores our relationship with God. In Christ, we are children of God and brothers and sisters to one another.)

  8. Conclude in prayer together, asking God to give us faith to know Jesus truly, the Son of God who saves us from sin. Pray together the Act of Faith or the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 123.


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:1-6
Jesus is rejected in his hometown.


Family Connection

Our family plays an important role in shaping us and forming our self-identity. In family life, we find a safe place to discover who we are and who God calls us to be. But sometimes the influences from outside our family can make us unrecognizable to those who know us best. These outside influences can lead us away from God, or they can lead us toward a deeper relationship with God. In today's Gospel, we see that the people of Nazareth could not recognize Jesus as the Son of God. They could know him only as the son of Mary. We hope that through our family life we will be encouraged to filter the many influences on our lives through the lens of faith so that we will become the person that God calls us to be.As you gather as a family, talk about the people and events that are influencing members of your family. Acknowledge that many of these people and events are positive influences, helping us be better people and leading us to a deeper relationship with God. Also acknowledge, however, that there are negative influences in our lives that risk pulling us away from God. Observe that Jesus was a person who allowed his relationship with God to be the most important thing in his life. This led many people to have faith in him as the Son of God. However, not everyone could recognize this about Jesus. Read today's Gospel, Mark 6:1-6. Ask: Who does not recognize Jesus as God's Son in this Gospel? (some of his kinfolk in Nazareth) Observe that because of the people's lack of faith, Jesus could not perform many miracles in Nazareth. Conclude by praying together that our families will continue to help us follow God in our lives. Pray together the Prayer for Vocations.