Sixth 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.


Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, February 11, 2018

 


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Leviticus 13:1-2,44-46
The Law regarding leprosy is given to Moses and Aaron.

 

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 32:1-2,5,11
A prayer of contrition and confession for sin.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 10:31—11:1
Paul urges the Corinthians to imitate him as he imitates Christ.

Gospel Reading
Mark 1:40-45
Jesus cures a person with leprosy, who reports his cure to everyone.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In today's Gospel, we continue to hear Mark report the miraculous healings that Jesus performed in Galilee. The Gospel begins with Jesus healing a man with leprosy. Leprosy is a disfiguring, infectious skin disease that has been surrounded by many social and religious taboos throughout history. In 1873, the cause of leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, was identified. We now know that leprosy is caused by a bacterial infection. Although it is infectious, modern medical studies have shown that transmission is more difficult than previously thought. Since the 1940s, medical treatments have been available, and the patient no longer needs to be isolated once long-term treatment has begun.

In Jesus' time, however, religious and social taboos dictated the behavior of those with leprosy and other skin diseases. The Law of Moses provided for the examination of skin diseases by the priests, and if leprosy was identified, the person was declared unclean. People with leprosy lived in isolation from the community. They were instructed to rip their clothes and to announce their presence with loud cries when moving in the community. If the sores of leprosy healed, the Law of Moses provided a purification rite that permitted the person to return to the community.

In today's Gospel, the man with leprosy took the initiative, approaching Jesus and asking for healing. In doing so, the leper violated the religious customs of the day by approaching a person who was clean. His request to Jesus can be interpreted as a courageous and daring act. The confidence of the leper in Jesus' ability to heal him is evident in the words of his request. But his words can also be read as a challenge to Jesus, asking just how far Jesus was willing to extend himself in order to heal someone. While healing the man, Jesus touched him, which also violated established social norms. This is an important sign of the depth of Jesus' compassion for the man and an important statement about Jesus' interpretation of the Law of Moses.

Although Jesus touched the leper, he did not break completely with the Law of Moses. He instructed the man not to tell anyone about the cure and told him to present himself to the priests as prescribed by the Law of Moses. The first instruction sounds nearly impossible to honor. Certainly, the man would want to share the good news of his healing, and his quick improvement would require an explanation. The second instruction honors the Law of Moses.

Mark's Gospel tells us that after this healing, it became difficult for Jesus to travel freely. There are several possible explanations for this. There might have been concern about the repercussions of Jesus' breach of social and religious norms. In touching the man with leprosy, Jesus made himself unclean. Mark's narrative, however, leads to the conclusion that Jesus' movement was hampered by his popularity. Despite his instructions, the cured man spread the word about Jesus' healing power. Even when Jesus was in deserted places, people sought him out in search of his healing. 
 

Gospel Reading
Mark 1:40-45
Jesus cures a person with leprosy, who reports his cure to everyone.


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

Young children are continuing to learn how to handle the many choices in their lives, and theyare learning that others in their life have choices as well. In Jesus' choice to heal the man with leprosy, we learn that God wants us to make loving and healing choices.

Materials Needed

  • A toy car
  • A toy telephone
  • A hammer
  • A large spoon
  • A bag

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Place a toy car, a toy telephone, a hammer, and a large spoon in a bag. Ask volunteers to take the items out, one at a time, and to tell what they can do with each of them. Also have the children say what is beyond their ability to do with each item.

  2. Say: Although you have the ability to fasten your seatbelt, are there times when you would rather not? Although you have the ability to call someone on the telephone, are there times when you should not? Continue in this manner with the other items.

  3. Say: In the Gospel this week, a man who had a very bad skin disease begged Jesus to cure him. The man knew that no one but Jesus could do this; however, he also knew that Jesus could choose whether to do it or not. Let's listen carefully to what the man and Jesus said to one another.

  4. Read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 1:40-45.

  5. Ask: What did the man say to Jesus? (If you want to, you can heal me.) What did Jesus answer, and what did he do? (He said that he wanted to help him, and he healed the man.)

  6. Say: God wants us to be like Jesus and to choose to act in ways that help others, including helping those who are ill. What are some choices that we could make to help someone who is sick? (send a get-well card, visit, help in other ways, pray for them, and so on)

  7. Conclude by praying together that we will be like Jesus and make the choice to help others, especially those who are sick. Pray together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 1:40-45
Jesus cures a person with leprosy, who reports his cure to everyone.


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

Older children have learned how to make routine daily choices. They are continuing to learn the more difficult process of moral decision making. Through Jesus' healing of the man with leprosy, we can teach older children the importance of making choices that help others.

Materials Needed (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

  • None

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

  1. Say to the group: You have so many choices in the course of the day that you may not even realize how many decisions you make. Let's list some of the decisions that you have made since you woke up this morning. Make a list together. (choosing what clothes to wear, choosing what to eat for breakfast, and so on)

  2. Say: Most of us have become pretty good at making good choices that relate to our daily routines. But sometimes we are faced with a choice that is more difficult.

  3. Say: In today's Gospel, Jesus is faced with this kind of choice. A man approaches Jesus, asking to be healed. Jesus was faced with the choice of whether to heal him or not.

  4. Read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 1:40-45.

  5. Ask: What did the man want Jesus to do? (cure his leprosy) Why might Jesus not want to do this? Remind the students that leprosy is a disfiguring skin disease and that in Jesus' time, people with leprosy were not permitted to have contact with people who did not have the disease. What did Jesus decide to do? (He healed the man with leprosy; he touched him as part of the healing.)

  6. Say: As Christians, we face similar choices with the decisions that we are asked to make. We have the choice to love, the choice to help, or to do nothing. We show the depth of our faith when, like Jesus, we choose to love and to help, even when this is difficult for us.

  7. Conclude by praying together that we will have the courage to help and heal others, even if doing so is difficult. Pray together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.

Gospel Reading
Mark 1:40-45
Jesus cures a person with leprosy, who reports his cure to everyone.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

As they mature, young people become more aware of the needs of others. We can encourage them to express their faith by showing compassion and making choices to help others.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people to think back over their week and recall a time when someone expressed a need and asked for their help.

  2. Tell the young people to use this situation to consider these questions about our response to people in need: What feelings did you experience when you were asked to help? How did you respond? Are there times when you would rather not get involved when someone asks for your help?

  3. Say: When someone asks us for help, we are faced with a choice. We can choose to help, or we can decide not to help. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus is faced with such a choice when a man with leprosy asks for his help. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Invite a volunteer to read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Mark 1:40–45.

  5. Ask: What did the man ask Jesus to do? (to make him clean, to cure his leprosy) Why might Jesus not want to do this? (Accept all reasonable answers; if necessary, remind the young people that leprosy is a disfiguring skin disease and that in Jesus’ time, people with leprosy were not permitted contact with those who did not have the disease.) How does the Gospel describe Jesus’ response to the man’s request for help? (Jesus was “moved with pity.”) What did Jesus choose to do? (He touched the man with leprosy and healed him.)

  6. Say: Jesus felt compassion for the man with leprosy, and he chose to show his compassion by his actions. When we hear of the needs of others, we often feel compassion toward them. Then we must choose how we will respond. We show ourselves to be true Christians when, like Jesus, we demonstrate compassion by our actions, giving help when we are able.

  7. Conclude by praying together that we will take opportunities to show compassion to those who ask for our help. Encourage the young people to identify a choice they can make this week to show compassion to a person they know to be in need. Pray together a Prayer for Generosity.

Gospel Reading
Mark 1:40-45
Jesus cures a person with leprosy, who reports his cure to everyone.


Family Connection

Today's Gospel invites us to think about the choices we make as individuals and as a family. Jesus was faced with a choice in today's Gospel. By choosing to heal the man with leprosy, Jesus showed God's compassion for the sick and the outcast. The man knew that Jesus had a choice and that Jesus could reject his request. He may have expected that Jesus would not help him. The social taboos regarding leprosy certainly gave him little on which to base his hope. In the person of the man with leprosy, we see an image of all those in need. The sick and the outcast of our world are watching us, to see if we as Christians will choose to extend ourselves to others in need of healing and compassion.

Gather with your family and talk about some of the choices you have made as a family. (where to go on vacation, what activities to do together, how to spend our evenings, and so on) How does your family go about making these decisions? What do your choices communicate to others about your family's values? In today's Gospel, Jesus was faced with a choice. Read today's Gospel, Mark 1:40-45. In choosing to heal the man with leprosy, Jesus chose to show God's compassion and mercy. All our choices reflect our faith, and others are watching. Conclude in prayer together, asking God to help your family show compassion to others in your family decisions. Pray together today's Psalm, Psalm 32, or pray the Prayer for Vocations.