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.


Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, February 19, 2012

This Sunday's Readings

First Reading
Isaiah 43:18-19,21-22,24b-25
The Lord announces his forgiveness.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 41:2-5,13-14
A prayer for the Lord's forgiveness and healing

Second Reading
2 Corinthians 1:18-22
Paul affirms God's faithfulness, even those he has had to change his plans to visit the Corinthians.

Gospel Reading
Mark 2:1-12
Jesus tells the paralyzed man that his sins are forgiven and also heals his body.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In today's Gospel we continue to hear Mark's reports about Jesus' preaching and healing. Jesus has returned to Capernaum, which Mark refers to as his home. Jesus' popularity with the people thrives, and he preaches to them. The crowds are so great that the house is filled, and no one can enter through the door. Determined to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus, four men break through the roof and lower the man into the house.

Jesus was moved by the faith displayed by the four determined men, and so he addressed the paralyzed man, declaring that his sins are forgiven. This response may strike us as odd, but in Jesus' time, illness was thought to be a sign of sinfulness. Reading this passage in the context of the overall narrative of Mark's Gospel, Jesus appears to be upping the ante in the mounting tension with the Jewish authorities. Forgiveness of sins was a power that Jews believed to be from God alone. To claim the authority to forgive sins was blasphemous. This tension will continue to grow throughout Mark's Gospel. In the end, blasphemy will be among the accusations made against Jesus, leading to his death on the cross.

Mark reports that some of the scribes were present and heard Jesus' words to the paralyzed man. Mark then describes the reaction of the scribes, who are now beginning to question Jesus' words. They are alarmed. Jesus knew what the scribes were thinking and responded to their accusations of blasphemy by curing the man's paralysis, offering that as a sign of his authority to forgive sins. All who witnessed this healing are said to have been astonished.

This passage highlights for us the connection between faith and Jesus' healing power. Jesus is said to have been moved by the faith of the paralyzed man's friends. Our prayers for those who are sick bring to them the healing presence of Jesus.

Gospel Reading
Mark 2:1-12
Jesus tells the paralyzed man that his sins are forgiven and also heals his body.


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

Young children are beginning to be able to identify the feelings that accompany sin. We can help them to understand that God's forgiveness is the remedy for sin. God both heals us and forgives us in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the children to tell how they would feel under the following circumstances and discuss the responses:
    a. Your dad said to shut the door, but you left it partway open, and the cat ran outside. Now the cat is lost.
    b. Your teacher told you to put paper under your artwork. You didn't do this, but you continued to draw, and the markers have damaged your desk.
    c. Your friend told you a secret, and you promised not to repeat it. You told your neighbor, and then your friend discovered that you had not kept your promise.

  2. Say: These kinds of problems can make us feel terrible. When things like this happen, we want to make things right again. When we are sick, we need to be healed; in the same way, when we do something wrong, we need to be forgiven. When Jesus was here on earth, he healed physical illnesses, and he forgave people for doing wrong. In this week's Gospel, Jesus does both. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  3. Read today's Gospel, Mark 2:1-12.

  4. Ask: What did some people in the crowd do to help their friend who could not walk? (They cut a hole in the roof to get their friend to Jesus.) Jesus cured more than their friend's body that day. He also cured the man's soul by forgiving his sins. The man immediately got up and walked.

  5. Say: The Church helps people who are sick, like the friends in today's Gospel. We care for people who are sick, we pray for healing and for forgiveness, and we ask God to help them in a special sacrament called the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

  6. Conclude in prayer together for those who are sick. Pray prayers of petition for the sick; after each petition, pray “Jesus, heal us.” Conclude by praying the Glory Be to the Father.

Gospel Reading
Mark 2:1-12
Jesus tells the paralyzed man that his sins are forgiven and also heals his body.


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

It is a natural part of development for children to question the authority of others; ultimately, we hope for our young people to have a healthy sense of authority. We can help by teaching them that the authority of the Church is derived from the authority given to it by Jesus.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: I often hear children your age ask the question, “Says who?” Have you ever heard someone ask this question? What are some circumstances in which this question is asked? (siblings who are bringing a message from parents, classmates who deliver a message about school rules, and so on)

  2. Ask: When people ask that question, what do they really mean? (What is the authority behind the message; do I really need to follow the instructions given?) The question seeks to identify the authority behind the message so that someone knows whether or not to believe the message or to follow the instructions given.

  3. Say: This is the question that the scribes are asking themselves in today's Gospel when Jesus forgives the paralyzed man's sins. Let's listen carefully to today's Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 2:1-12.

  5. Ask: Why might the scribes question Jesus' authority to forgive sins? (The scribes knew that only God forgives sins; they wanted to know on what basis Jesus would claim this authority; they did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God.) What does Jesus do as a sign of his authority to forgive sins? (He heals the man's paralysis.)

  6. Say: Jesus shared the authority to forgive sins with the Church. When we celebrate God's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can rest assured that our sins have been forgiven.

  7. Conclude in prayer together that we will celebrate God's gift of forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Allow some quiet time for prayer in which we thank God for the peace of his forgiveness. Pray together the Act of Contrition.

Gospel Reading
Mark 2:1-12
Jesus tells the paralyzed man that his sins are forgiven and also heals his body.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people are learning and practicing skills needed to face life’s challenges. We can help them to see that the gift of faith helps them meet those challenges.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people if they have ever run an obstacle course or participated in a challenge (or ropes) course. Invite any who have to describe their experience.

  2. Ask the group to identify the skills needed to complete an obstacle course or a challenge course. Help them to identify both the physical and non-physical skills needed.

  3. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear how a man and his friends overcome the obstacles that prevented them from seeing Jesus. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, Mark 2:1–12.

  5. Ask: What obstacles prevented the paralyzed man from approaching Jesus? (his inability to walk on his own, the great crowd surrounding Jesus) What did the man’s friends do to overcome these obstacles? (They carried the man; they broke through the roof and lowered the man on a mat so that he could enter the house.) What qualities helped the man and his friends to overcome the obstacles that prevented them from approaching Jesus? (Accept all reasonable answers, such as courage, creativity, and determination.) What does the Gospel say that Jesus observed in them? (faith) What did Jesus do for the man? (Jesus forgave the man’s sins and healed him.)

  6. Say: Faith is a gift from God that helps us to believe in him. How can faith help us to face the challenges in our lives? (Accept all reasonable answers, such as helping us to trust that God loves us and cares for us always.) The Holy Spirit helps us to respond to the gift of faith and to share it with others. Work together to identify ways we nurture the gift of faith and share it with others.

  7. Conclude in prayer, asking God to make our faith strong. Pray together the Act of Faith or the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 41.

Gospel Reading
Mark 2:1-12
Jesus tells the paralyzed man that his sins are forgiven and also heals his body.


Family Connection

Like the paralyzed man's friends in today's Gospel, we would make extraordinary efforts to find care for a family member who was ill. Caring for one another in times of illness is an important part of family life. When we care for one another, we are attentive not only to physical needs, but to emotional and spiritual needs as well. Our Catholic tradition teaches that prayer for those who are sick is an important way to help them. As Jesus was moved by the faith of the paralytic man's friends, so too our prayer for the sick helps to bring them Jesus' healing presence.

As you gather as family, recall times when family members have been ill. Talk about the concrete ways in which we care for a family member who is sick. Notice that when someone is sick, we care for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Read today's Gospel, Mark 2:1-12. In what ways did the paralytic man's friends care for his needs? In what ways did Jesus care for the man's needs? One of the most important ways that we care for those who are sick is through prayer. Conclude by praying together for family members and friends who are sick. After each person is named, pray “Jesus, heal us.” Pray also for the people who take care of the sick. Conclude by praying the Glory Be to the Father.