16th 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.


Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, July 22, 2018


This Sunday’s Readings


First Reading
Jeremiah 23:1-6
The Lord promises to shepherd his people Israel.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 23:1-3,3-4,5,6
The Lord is our shepherd.

Second Reading
Ephesians 2:13-18
Christ has reconciled us with God and united us in peace.

Gospel Reading
Mark 6:30-34
Jesus invites his disciples to rest after their ministry, and Jesus is moved with pity for the crowds who pursue them.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In this today’s Gospel, we read the report of the return of the Twelve, who were sent by Jesus to preach repentance, heal the sick, and drive out demons. When the Twelve return to Jesus, he invites them to come away from the crowds and rest. But the crowds will not give them peace. As the Twelve have shared in Jesus’ ministry, they now appear to share in his popularity. The crowds continue to approach them, and Mark reports that the disciples don’t even have time to eat. In an effort to get away, Jesus and his disciples board a boat in hopes of finding a deserted place. But the crowds notice this and arrive ahead of them. The crowds are so persistent that Jesus and his disciples cannot find a place to be alone. Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus is moved with pity and begins to teach the crowds.

Our Gospel for today stops here, but Mark’s report of the unyielding demands of the crowd continues in the verses that follow. If we were to continue reading from Mark’s Gospel, we would hear Jesus instruct his disciples to feed the crowd in the familiar miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. The work of Jesus and his disciples appears to be a round-the-clock job. In the next few weeks, we will hear the story of Jesus’ feeding of the multitude, but our Lectionary will turn to the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John to report and reflect on this story.

In today’s Gospel, we hear the Twelve referred to as “apostles.” The word apostle is a Greek word meaning “one who is sent.” Jesus chose twelve men from among his disciples whom he sent to share in his ministry of preaching and healing. The first report of this is found in the third chapter of Mark’s Gospel, where the Twelve are also called apostles and the names of this select group are listed.

We who are Jesus’ disciples today have also been sent to share the Gospel with others. Perhaps our commitment to following Jesus as his disciple leaves us feeling tired and overwhelmed. In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus affirm the importance of times of rest and renewal. Jesus wanted his disciples to come away and spend time alone with him. This is what we seek and find in our life of prayer and in our celebration of the Eucharist. 


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:30-34
Jesus invites his disciples to rest after their ministry, and Jesus is moved with pity for the crowds who pursue them.


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

Young children instinctively know that they need time for rest and quiet. We can teach them that quiet time with Jesus can be an important part of their daily routine.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Tell the group that they have a lot of things to do today, beginning with this activity. Lead the children through a series of exercises (jumping jacks, running in place, toe touches, and so on). Instruct the children to participate for as long as they want, but they should sit down when they get tired. When only a few remain standing, instruct everyone to sit down.

  2. Say: What happened just now is what happens to us after a long day of activity. Each day we are busy doing many good and fun activities.At the end of the day, we are tired and need time to rest. What are some of the things you do at the end of the day to help you rest? (quiet time with family, reading, listening to quiet music, praying, and so on)

  3. Say: In today’s Gospel we learn that Jesus and his disciples also needed to find time to rest after a busy day. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Read aloud today’s Gospel, Mark 6:30-34.

  5. Ask: What does Jesus want to do with his disciples? (He wanted to go away from the crowds and rest.) Are they able to do this? (No, the crowds follow them.)

  6. Say: Jesus knew that his disciples were tired, and he wanted to spend some quiet time with them. But they weren’t able to do that on this day because the crowds kept following them. Jesus also wants to spend quiet time with us, and he invites us to do this in our prayer. Now that Jesus is with God in heaven, he is able to be with us whenever we pray. As we settle in at the end of the day, we can spend time with Jesus in prayer.

  7. Conclude by teaching the children the Evening Prayer and praying it together. Encourage the children to pray before they go to sleep each night.


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:30-34
Jesus invites his disciples to rest after their ministry, and Jesus is moved with pity for the crowds who pursue them.


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

Older children are learning to manage their own activities and commitments. We can help them appreciate the importance of including time for rest, relaxation, and prayer as they learn how to be disciples of Christ.

Materials Needed

  • A one-week calendar page for each child, pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: I know that many of you are involved in some wonderful activities. I wonder what your week looks like. Let’s take some time to write these activities on a daily calendar. Distribute the calendar pages and assist the children as they write in their activities and commitments. Suggest that they also write an approximate schedule for each day.

  2. Invite the children to look over their schedules for the week. Ask them to circle the activities that are most important to them and to underline activities that they consider to be relaxing.

  3. Say: We do many important things during the week. To make these important things happen, we have to do some planning. For example, we might have to arrange for rides to practices and sporting events. Perhaps we have to set aside time for homework. We also know that we need to find time for rest and relaxation.

  4. Say: In last week’s Gospel, we heard Jesus send his disciples to preach and to heal in his name. In today’s Gospel, we hear what happens when they return from this important work. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, Mark 6:30-34.

  5. Ask: What does Jesus want his disciples to do now that they have returned from their work? (He wants them to rest.) Do they succeed in finding time to rest? (No, the crowd continues to seek them out; Jesus is moved with pity and begins to teach the crowd.)

  6. Say: In today’s Gospel, we learn that Jesus wanted his disciples to rest and relax after their work. Jesus also wants us to make time in our lives for rest and relaxation. Part of this time might be spent in prayer. Just as we need to set aside time for homework and to plan for other important activities in our week, we also need to plan for prayer.

  7. Conclude by asking the children to look over their weekly schedules and to identify a time this week when they will pray. Ask Jesus to help them make prayer a priority in their lives. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.

 


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:30-34
Jesus invites his disciples to rest after their ministry, and Jesus is moved with pity for the crowds who pursue them.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Summer months provide a greater freedom to enjoy time for recreation. As young people plan their days, we can encourage them to set apart time for prayer as well.

Materials Needed

  • None

 Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the young people to consider what activities they would choose if given the opportunity to plan one day of summer. Then ask volunteers to describe their ideal summer day.

  2. Point out that we benefit from participating in recreational activities throughout the year, but often find more opportunities to do so during the summer months.

  3. Say: In last week’s Gospel reading, we heard how Jesus sent out the Twelve, giving them authority over unclean spirits. This Sunday’s Gospel describes what happened when the Twelve returned. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel reading.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Mark 6:30–34.

  5. Ask: What does Jesus want his disciples to do now that they have returned? (He wants them to rest.) What happens when Jesus and the disciples try to find a quiet place? (The crowd continues to seek them out. Jesus is moved with pity and begins to teach the crowds.)

  6. Say: We are blessed to have opportunities to choose how to spend our time. Jesus wants us to take time for rest and to spend time with him in prayer. As we plan for recreational activities this summer, we can set apart time for prayer too. Encourage the young people to make good choices about their activities this summer, including setting apart time for prayer each day.

  7. Say: In prayer, Jesus renews and strengthens us to live as his disciples. When we pray, we can talk with Jesus about our own needs and the concerns we have for others. Just as Jesus was moved with pity when he saw the crowds, Jesus will hear us and respond with love when we bring these concerns to him in prayer. 

  8. Conclude in prayer, praising God for the gifts of summer and asking for help to strengthen our resolve to grow closer to God through prayer. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer or the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 23.


Gospel Reading
Mark 6:30-34
Jesus invites his disciples to rest after their ministry, and Jesus is moved with pity for the crowds who pursue them.


Family Connection

Family demands can make us feel like Jesus and the twelve apostles. We wish for times of relaxation and renewal, but there are errands to do, household chores to keep up with, volunteer commitments to keep. These are all good things, but we can be left feeling drained and tired as we try to keep up. Perhaps we might take the opportunity this week to give ourselves permission to find the rest and relaxation that Jesus seeks for his disciples in today’s Gospel. One of the gifts we can give to one another in our family life is assistance in finding the time and space to renew ourselves through prayer.

When you gather together as a family this week, bring your family calendar. Together review your family calendar and spend some time reflecting on your family activities. In particular, ask if your family has an appropriate amount of time for rest and relaxation. If not, discuss ways in which this time for renewal might be included in the week ahead. Read together today’s Gospel, Mark 6:30-34. Notice how Jesus tried to find time and space for his disciples to rest and relax after they returned from their mission. Conclude in prayer together, asking God to help us find time to renew ourselves so that we might be better disciples of Jesus. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.