15th 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.


Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, July 15, 2018


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Amos 7:12-15
The prophet Amos is sent from Bethel.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 85:9-10,11-12,13-14
A prayer for the Lord's salvation

Second Reading
Ephesians 1:3-14 ( shorter form Ephesians 1:3-10)
Paul teaches that we were chosen for Christ before the creation of the world.

Gospel Reading
Mark 6:7-13
Jesus instructs his disciples and sends them to preach repentance.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This week's Gospel and the one for next week describe how Jesus sent the disciples to minister in his name and the disciples' return to Jesus afterward. These two passages, however, are not presented together in Mark's Gospel. Inserted between the two is the report of Herod's fears that Jesus is John the Baptist back from the dead. In Mark's Gospel, Jesus' ministry is presented in connection with the teaching of John the Baptist. Jesus' public ministry begins after John is arrested. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, who preached the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God.

While we do not read these details about John the Baptist in our Gospel this week or next week, our Lectionary sequence stays consistent with Mark's theme. Recall that last week we heard how Jesus was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth. The insertion of the reminder about John the Baptist's ministry and his death at the hands of Herod in Mark's Gospel makes a similar point. Mark reminds his readers about this dangerous context for Jesus' ministry and that of his disciples. Preaching repentance and the Kingdom of God is dangerous business for Jesus and for his disciples. Mark wants his readers to remember that we, too, may find resistance as we choose to be disciples of Jesus.

Mark's Gospel tells us that Jesus sent out the Twelve. These twelve were selected from among Jesus' disciples and named by Mark in chapter 3. Mark notes that these twelve are also called “apostles.” The word apostle means “one who is sent.” The number twelve is also a symbolic number, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. By naming twelve apostles, Jesus shows his mission to be in continuity with the mission of God's people, Israel.

Jesus' instructions to the apostles are very specific. He repeats the mission that they are sent to preach and to share his authority to heal and to drive out demons. Jesus sends them in pairs, establishing his mission as a communal endeavor. Jesus also instructs them to travel lightly, without the customary food, money, and extra set of clothes. These instructions mean that the Twelve will be dependent on the hospitality of others, just as Jesus depended on others to provide for his needs.

Jesus continues to send us into the world as his disciples. But like the first disciples, we are not sent alone. Jesus has given us the community of the Church, which strengthens our life of discipleship. The Christian message can only authentically be proclaimed in and through the community of faith that is the Church. In our work with others, we build this community of faith and can invite others to share in it.
 

 


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:7-13
Jesus instructs his disciples and sends them to preach repentance.


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

Young children are still learning the importance of teamwork. We can help them appreciate that many tasks require us to work together with others and that the Church is the community with which we are sent by Jesus to share his good news.

Materials Needed

  • Two blocks for each child

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Give each child two blocks. Tell the children that you want them to use their two blocks to build a house or a tower. Allow time for them to attempt this task. They might spontaneously begin sharing blocks with each other so that they can accomplish the task; if not, you might suggest that they do so. When everyone has succeeded in working with another person to build a house or a tower, congratulate them on accomplishing the task and collect the blocks.

  2. Say: Some things we just cannot do by ourselves. With only two blocks, none of us could build a bridge. But when we worked with another person, we were able to build the house or the tower. In today's Gospel we hear Jesus give instructions to his disciples about something else that people can't do by themselves.

  3. Read today's Gospel, Mark 6:7-13.

  4. Ask: What did Jesus send his disciples to do?(to preach and to heal the sick) Did Jesus send them out alone? (No, he sent them out in pairs.)

  5. Say: Jesus wants us to tell people about his love for us and to help people in his name. But he doesn't expect us to do this job alone. He wants us to work with others. The Church is the community of disciples who teach people about Jesus and who help others in his name. Through Baptism, we became members of the Church.

  6. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for giving us the community of the Church so that we can be disciples of Jesus. Pray together the Lord's Prayer or the Prayer for Vocations.


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:7-13
Jesus instructs his disciples and sends them to preach repentance.


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

Older children are beginning to realize the importance of teamwork. We can help them understand that Jesus continues to send us to minister in his name, together with the community of the Church.

Materials Needed (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

  • None 

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

  1. Prepare a list of the names of the different sports that the children in your group enjoy and participate in. Invite a volunteer to write the list on the board. Look back over the list and ask the group to identify which of the sports are team sports. Ask a volunteer to circle each team sport as it is named.

  2. Ask: What makes playing a team sport fun? Why is teamwork an important aspect of sportsmanship? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Say: In today's Gospel, we will hear how Jesus sent his disciples to minister in his name. When he did this, he gave them very specific instructions. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 6:7-13.

  5. Ask: What are some of the instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples when he sent them out? (He told them not to bring food or money or a second tunic; he told them to travel in pairs; he told them to stay in one house until they were ready to leave from that place.) Why do you think Jesus sent his disciples in pairs to minister? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  6. Say: Jesus seemed to know the value of teamwork, and he thought it was so important that he made it one of the “rules” of Christian ministry. As Jesus' disciples today, we too are sent to share Jesus' message with others. But we are not sent alone because we have the community of the Church, which supports us in our life of Christian discipleship.

  7. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for the gift of the community of faith that supports us in our life of discipleship. Pray together the Prayer for Vocations.


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:7-13
Jesus instructs his disciples and sends them to preach repentance.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Jesus sent out the Twelve, giving instructions about how they were to conduct themselves on their mission journey. Like the Twelve, we are sent to serve others and are given everything we need for our journey as disciples.

Materials Needed (Grades 7 and 8)

  • Paper and pencils

 Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings (Grades 7 and 8)

  1. Distribute paper and pencils. Tell the young people to imagine that they are preparing for an overnight trip and ask them to write a list of items they will need to pack. When they have finished, observe that their lists are likely to include items that are absolutely necessary as well as items that are good to have, but not essential. Tell the young people to review their list and star items that they consider to be essential.

  2. Then ask: If you were to stay at a hotel, what items would you expect to find provided in your room? (for example, soap, shampoo, conditioner) Observe that travelers expect to find these essential items provided as part of the hospitality offered when they stay at a hotel.

  3. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus gives authority to the Twelve and sends them out, giving specific instructions about what they are to bring for their journey. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Mark 6:7–13.

  5. Ask: What instructions did Jesus give to the Twelve when he sent them out? (He told them to take a walking stick and to wear sandals, but not to bring food or money or a second tunic. He told them to travel in pairs. He told them to stay in one house until they were ready to leave from that place.) Observe that, like travelers today, the Twelve would depend on the hospitality of others to provide for their needs.

  6. Ask: What were the Twelve able to do when Jesus sent them out? (They preached repentance, drove out demons, and cured many who were sick.) Observe that the Twelve were also dependent on Jesus, who gave them authority over unclean spirits.

  7. Say: Jesus also calls us to share in his mission and sends us out to serve others. We depend on Jesus and the community of the Church that he gives us in our journey as disciples.

  8. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for providing everything we need to serve others in Jesus’ name. Pray together the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 85.


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:7-13
Jesus instructs his disciples and sends them to preach repentance.


Family Connection

Families who work together to accomplish routine household tasks know that the benefits are more than efficiency. In sharing daily tasks, we accomplish more, but we also build relationships that last—and it's a lot more fun! Jesus sent his disciples in pairs to minister in his name. Perhaps the job was accomplished more effectively this way, but more importantly, Jesus' mission was accomplished more authentically. The Christian message can only authentically be proclaimed in and through the community of faith. In our work with others, we build this community of faith and can invite others to share in it.
As you gather as a family, talk about some household tasks that are more easily accomplished when two or more people work together. Talk about how working together not only makes the job easier, but also makes the task more fun because we are able to spend time together. Read together today's Gospel, Mark 6:7-13. Ask: Why do you think Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs? Observe that Jesus continues to give us a community with which we share our life of discipleship—our family and the community of the Church. Conclude in prayer together that we will continue to rely on the support of the community of the Church in our life of discipleship. Pray together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.