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.


Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, June 21, 2015

This Sunday's Readings

First Reading
Job 38:1,8-11
The Lord answers Job's complaints.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 107:23-24,25-26,28-29,30-31
A song of praise to God for rescue

Second Reading
2 Corinthians 5:14-17
Those in Christ are a new creation.

Gospel Reading
Mark 4:35-41
Jesus calms the storm.

Background on the Gospel Reading

As we continue in Ordinary Time, our reading today is taken from the Gospel of Mark, the primary Gospel reading in Lectionary Cycle B. Mark's Gospel presents a vivid portrait of Jesus, whose words and deeds show that he is the Son of God. Today's Gospel describes the end of a day of teaching in Jesus' ministry. Jesus taught the crowd in parables and then offered explanations of these parables to his disciples. Jesus then led his disciples away from the crowds and into the boats that they will use to cross the Sea of Galilee. The sea and its surrounding area are the settings for Jesus' teachings and miracles in this part of Mark's Gospel. Today's reading describes how Jesus calmed a storm at sea. It is the first of four miracles that are presented in sequence at this point in Mark's Gospel.

As is typical in Mark's Gospel, Jesus' disciples are frightened by the sudden storm; they do little to inspire confidence in the reader. Mark notes the contrast between the disciples' terror and Jesus' peace. Jesus is sleeping, untroubled by what is going on around him.

The disciples' words to Jesus are telling. They are familiar enough with Jesus to dare to wake him. Their words to him are words of reproach, questioning his care for them. A careful reader might wonder what the disciples expected Jesus to do. Are they more troubled by the storm or by Jesus' inattentiveness to their needs? How many of us have chided a family member or friend for not agreeing with our assessment of the severity of a situation?

Today's Gospel offers evidence of Jesus' power and authority as he calms the storm. In his day, power over nature was believed to be a sign of divinity—only God calms storms. Jesus' rebuke of the storm also echoes the rebuke he uses when he talks to and expels demons. In each situation, Jesus' power and authority is a sign of his divinity. Indeed, the disciples are left wondering about Jesus' identity at the conclusion of today's Gospel. They see before them a human being who acts with the authority and power of God. The disciples' uncertainty about Jesus' identity is a recurring them in Mark's Gospel.

This Gospel is a metaphor for our lives. We are in the boat, the storms of life are raging around us, and like the disciples, we may believe that Jesus is unconcerned, or “sleeping.” We hope that we will be as familiar with Jesus as his disciples. If we feel that Jesus is sleeping, are we comfortable enough to wake Jesus and present him with our needs? Jesus does not chide his disciples for waking him. Instead he chides them for their lack of faith, for their lack of perspective. When we bring our worries to God in prayer, we might just begin to learn to see things from God's perspective.


Gospel Reading
Mark 4:35-41
Jesus calms the storm.


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

Young children experience worry and concern about many things. When the adults in their lives listen to their worries and help put these worries in perspective, we teach them to trust in God's love and protection.

Materials Needed

  • Toy blocks, enough to build a small tower

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the children to name some things that might cause them to worry. As each worry is named, begin building a tower of blocks, adding a new block as each worry is named. Say: If we let worries build up in us without sharing them, it can begin to feel like everything is crashing down around us. Knock over the tower of blocks.

  2. Ask: When you have worries, whom can you talk to about them? How do these people help you? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Say: In today's Gospel, we hear about a time when Jesus' disciples were worried about something that was happening, and they brought their concerns to Jesus. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 4:35-41.

  5. Ask: What were the disciples worried about in today's Gospel? (the storm) Was Jesus worried about the storm? (No.) What was Jesus doing? (Jesus was sleeping.) What did the disciples do? (They woke up Jesus and told him they were worried.) What do you think they expected Jesus to do? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What did Jesus do? (Jesus stopped the storm.)

  6. Say: Jesus did a really amazing thing: he told the storm to stop and it did. I think that this was more than the disciples hoped for when they brought their concern to Jesus. Like the disciples, we can share our worries and concerns with Jesus. Jesus can do amazing things for us as well if we bring him our worries and concerns in prayer.

  7. Conclude in prayer by asking the children to think about one thing they are concerned or worried about. Allow quiet time and tell the children to talk to Jesus about their worry or concern. After sufficient time, invite the children to pray together the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love.


Gospel Reading
Mark 4:35-41
Jesus calms the storm.


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

Older children are growing more sophisticated in their worries and concerns. Adults in their lives need to take these worries seriously and help children gain perspective so that they might begin to trust in God's love and protection.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the children to recall a time when they were worried about something, perhaps about a test at school, something that happened to a friend, or a news story on TV or radio. Ask: Who do you talk to when you have worries or concerns? (friends, parents, teachers, family members) How does talking with other people help you when you are worried? What do you hope that other people will do when you share a concern or worry with them? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 4:35-41.

  3. Ask: What were the disciples worried about in today's Gospel? (the storm) Was Jesus worried about the storm? What was Jesus doing? (No; Jesus was sleeping.) Why wasn't Jesus worried about the storm? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  4. Say: Like the disciples, we can share our worries and concerns with Jesus. When we bring our worries to Jesus in prayer, Jesus can help us see our worries from a different perspective. He can help us face our worries with faith in God's love and protection.

  5. Conclude in prayer by asking the children to think about one thing they are concerned or worried about. Allow quiet time and tell the children to talk to Jesus about their worry or concern. After sufficient time, invite the children to pray together the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love.


Gospel Reading
Mark 4:35-41
Jesus calms the storm.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

There are many situations in which someone might be encouraged to “have faith.” Reflecting on these circumstances can help young people consider what it means to have faith in God.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people if they have ever heard someone tell another person to “have faith.” Ask volunteers to give examples of possible situations in which someone might be told to “have faith.” Observe that this phrase can have different meanings, and discuss its meaning in each situation.

  2. Observe that another way to expand our understanding of a word’s meaning is to consider its antonyms. Ask the young people to name antonyms for the word faith and list these on the board (for example, doubt, fear, despair).

  3. Say: This Sunday’s Gospel describes a situation in which Jesus questions whether the disciples have faith. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel reading.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Mark 4:35–41.

  5. Ask for volunteers to retell this Sunday’s Gospel in their own words. Then ask: What do you think Jesus meant when he asked his disciples, “Do you not yet have faith?” (Accept all reasonable answers.) In what ways is a lack of faith demonstrated by the disciples? (Accept all reasonable answers.) If it is not offered, observe that one way the disciples demonstrate a lack of faith is by questioning Jesus’ care for them.

  6. Say: Faith is a gift from God that allows us to believe in and trust him. Faith is also our response to God and is expressed by the way we live our lives. We demonstrate faith when we trust God in all circumstances.

  7. Conclude by providing time for quiet prayer. Encourage the young people to ask Jesus to strengthen their faith as they pray about a situation in which they need to “have faith.” After sufficient time, pray together the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 107.


Gospel Reading
Mark 4:35-41
Jesus calms the storm.


Family Connection

Worries and concerns are part of human life. Jesus teaches us, however, that we ought not to let worries and concerns consume us. Jesus teaches us that our faith ought to lead us to trust in God's protection and love, no matter how strong the whirlwind going on around us. Like the disciples, we can bring our worries and concerns to Jesus in prayer. Jesus will hear our cries for help. He knows that our faith can be fragile and he will act so that our trust in God will be strengthened.As you gather as a family, invite each family member to talk about something that might be worrying them. Talk about how important it is to share worries and concerns with other people. When we do this, we learn to see our worries from a different perspective. Read today's Gospel, Mark 4:35-41. Ask your family questions such as these: Why were the disciples worried about the storm? Why wasn't Jesus worried about the storm?When we bring our worries to Jesus in prayer, Jesus can help us see things from God's perspective. Invite family members to name again a worry or concern and pray together that Jesus will help us have faith in God's love and protection. Conclude in prayer together by praying the Lord's Prayer.