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On the Back Porch

Reading, pondering and studying God’s Word is sometimes best done “on the back porch.” Each week we will try to offer something for you and your “back porch time.”

Year A ArchiveYear B Archive

12th Sunday, Year B

What We Celebrate

Last Sunday, the gospel readings were filled with parables about the Kingdom of God. The effect of his teaching with parables was to keep those on the “outside” from understanding: “Without parables he did not speak to them.” But it was different for the disciples: “but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.” (4:34). But the disciples were still a little less than clear. But parables aren’t the only way to teach! In the gospel for the 12th Sunday, we encounter the first of several miracles that demonstrate the extraordinary character of Jesus’ power as he stills a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee (4:35-41). Outside our gospel reading, this miracle is followed by others: Jesus casts out a demonic legion (5:1-20); raises Jairus’ daughter and heals a woman sick for 12 years (5:21-43 – our gospel text for next week). These miracles show that Jesus has power over the realms of nature, the demonic, and death.

There is a lot going on in this gospel. Take a moment “on the back porch” and find out more about this amazing Gospel.

Full Text of the Sunday Readings
Detailed Commentary


Christ stilling the storm on the Sea of Galilee | Ludolf Bakhuizen | 1695 | Indianapolis Museum of Art | PD

A Storm at Sea – the Book of Jonah

This gospel carries an echo from the story of Jonah – not the swallowed by a great fish/whale, but what happened before. The Word of God came to Jonah and commissioned him to be a prophet to the moral enemy of the Jews – the Assyrians. Jonah’s response:

But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish, away from the LORD. He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down in it to go with them to Tarshish, away from the LORD. The LORD, however, hurled a great wind upon the sea, and the storm was so great that the ship was about to break up. Then the sailors were afraid and each one cried to his god. To lighten the ship for themselves, they threw its cargo into the sea. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship, and lay there fast asleep. The captain approached him and said, ‘What are you doing asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps this god will be mindful of us so that we will not perish.’” (Jonah 1:3-6)

The first 3-4 minutes will give you the context (…or watch the whole video!)

…and the story continues

In the Jonah account “each one cried to his god.” This is a religious S.O.S as each sailor prays to his god; one of those gods has sent the raging storm, right? They are “shot gunning” prayers across all the spectrum of gods. It is to their credit that even they can see that this is no ordinary storm but betrays a divine reaction to some grave sin. But alas, the tempest rages: they can’t have called on the right god yet. Left to their own efforts, they begin to jettison cargo in an attempt to save themselves.

In the parallel account in Matthew, the disciples’ words to Jesus fit the anticipated pattern, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” (Matt. 8:25). In Mark, however, their cry carries an edge – rebuke? Disbelief? Incredulousness? It is hard to assign a meaning that leaves the disciples other than accusing Jesus of being indifferent to their plight.

In the middle of this “all hands on deck” effort, “Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship and lay there fast asleep.” The original hearers as well as modern ones have to wonder, “how in the world could he be curled up fast asleep when the tempest rages? I know some people can sleep through anything, but really?”

13th Sunday, Year B

What We Celebrate

Last Sunday, in the 12th Sunday’s gospel, Jesus begins teaching the disciples with the first in a series of miracles that demonstrate the extraordinary character of Jesus’ power.

Calming the storm at sea  (Mk 4:34-41) – Last Sunday
Casting a legion of demons from a man (Mk 5:1-20)
Raising Jairus’ daughter (Mk 5:21-24, 35-43) This Sunday
Healing the bleeding woman (Mk 5:25-34) This Sunday

In these miracles, Jesus exercises his power over nature, over the demonic army, over sickness, and over death.  Another detail which connects several of the readings is the association of Jesus and uncleanliness: the possessed man from the tombs (who is probably a Gentile), the flow of blood from the woman,  and being in the presence of death all pull Jesus into the category of ceremonial uncleanness – which is really a way of speaking about holiness.

There is a lot going on in this gospel. Take a moment “on the back porch” and find out more about this amazing Gospel.

Full Text of the Sunday Readings
Detailed Commentary


Image credit: The Daughter of Jairus (La fille de Zäire), 1886-1896 | James Tissot |  Brooklyn Museum, | PD-US

The Book of Leviticus

You might be wondering, “why a video on perhaps the most arcane and boring book of the Bible?” Answer: because it has a lot to say about holiness and purity (which are likely not what you think they mean). Take a few minutes to delve into this two key biblical attributes.

14th Sunday, Year B

What We Celebrate

Over the last two Sundays we have heard about three of Jesus’ miracles

Calming the storm at sea  (Mk 4:34-41)
Raising Jairus’ daughter (Mk 5:21-24, 35-43)
Healing the bleeding woman (Mk 5:25-34)

In these miracles, Jesus exercises his power over nature, over sickness, and over death.  And then Jesus comes to his own hometown. “There Jesus was not able to perform any miracles, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Not exactly the reaction one would hope for?  Why the resistance? Did not the wisdom and miracles speak for themselves?

There is a lot going on in this gospel. Take a moment “on the back porch” and find out more about this amazing Gospel.

Full Text of the Sunday Readings
Detailed Commentary


Image credit: Domenico Ghirlandaio | Calling the Apostles | 1481 | Sistine Chapel, Vatican | PD-US

Faithful

The gospel speaks to the faith that is asked of us who would take on the name “Christian.” What does it mean to be faithful? Perhaps we need only look to Scripture to see how an intrinsic characteristic of God is “faithfulness.” From that we can begin to understand what is being asked of us.

15th Sunday, Year B

What We Celebrate

Over the last several Sundays we have heard about various miracles JEsus has performed as part of the first phase of the Galilean ministry. In these miracles, Jesus exercises his power over nature, over sickness, and over death.  And then Jesus comes to his own hometown. “There Jesus was not able to perform any miracles, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Not exactly the reaction one would hope for. What lies ahead?

In a way, this Sunday’s gospel is like a coach talking to the team at halftime, getting the team ready for the “2nd half.”  In this case, the next phases of the Galilean mission. Jesus sends out “the twelve.” In this particular passage Mark does not refer to them as “apostles” (lit. the ones sent) but rather the “twelve.” Jesus sends them out with limited provisions or logistics support. He adds instructions as though He expects them to face resistance and failure. What reaction was Jesus hoping for>

There is a lot going on in this gospel. Take a moment “on the back porch” and find out more about this amazing Gospel.

Full Text of the Sunday Readings
Detailed Commentary


The Exhortation to the Apostles | James Tissot | ca. 1890 | Brooklyn Museum NYC | PD-US

Mission

A video from Fr. Casey Cole OFM – from his days in seminary while taking a missiology course. It is a video that makes the point that we make think about mission as a top-down endeavor by the great leaders of the early church. But take a moment, watch the video and understand how each of us have a place in the mission of evangelization.

16th Sunday, Year B

What We Celebrate

At the conclusion of their mission to the Galilean villages the disciples returned to Jesus. He had commissioned them to be his emissaries. Jesus invited them to a deserted/wilderness place to rest and enjoy the quiet. Jesus was conscious of the efforts that the apostle’s mission entailed and knew that it was important to recover their strength. However, It seems as though Jesus and the apostles have attracted a large crowd of people.

Whatever Jesus’ plan for himself and the apostles to have time apart and alone in order to rest and renew, the people have other ideas, hungering within for something more – even if they could not name the hunger. Perhaps they too needed rest.

There is a lot going on in this gospel. Take a moment “on the back porch” and find out more about this amazing Gospel.

Full Text of the Sunday Readings
Detailed Commentary


Christ preaching to the Apostles, Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1381| Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena | Public Domain US

Rest | Sabbath

On page one of the Bible, God orders a beautiful world out of chaotic darkness within a sequence of six days. And on the seventh day, God rests. This introduces the major biblical theme of patterns of seven that conclude with God and humans resting together as partners. In this video, explore the theme of seventh day rest and the biblical concept of Sabbath. We also look at why Jesus adopted this idea as a major part of his own mission to bring God’s Kingdom to earth.

17th Sunday, Year B

What We Celebrate

This week and for the following three weeks the gospels are taken from “The Bread of Life Discourse” of John 6. The people are responding to the news of a prophet, a miracle worker, a great teachers, and possibly the Messiah. They have gathered in great numbers and day was getting late. What are they to do. Philip tells Jesus: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Indeed, for with God all things are possible. And this is just the start of the Bread of Life Discourse.

There is a lot going on in this gospel. Take a moment “on the back porch” and find out more about this amazing Gospel.

Full Text of the Sunday Readings
Detailed Commentary


James J. Tissot, ‘Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes’ (1886-94), Brooklyn Museum, NYC | PD-US

Jesus Feeds the 5000

Bishop Barron: “Friends, we come now to the marvelous Feast of Corpus Christi, of the Body and Blood of Christ. What has been on my mind a lot recently is the famous story of the feeding of the five thousand—the only miracle, with the exception of the Resurrection, recounted in all four Gospels. Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes to the feeding of this great crowd must have made a massive impression on the first Christians. With this feast in mind, let’s look at the earliest version of this story in the Gospel of Mark, because every part of it is worthy of meditation.

18th Sunday, Year B

What We Celebrate

This week and for the following two weeks the gospels are taken from “The Bread of Life Discourse” of John 6. The miraculous feeding of the multitudes has already occurred, Jesus had already left the scene and now the people are following – but their motivations are not clear. Jesus challenges them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” What will be their response?

There is a lot going on in this gospel. Take a moment “on the back porch” and find out more about this amazing Gospel.

Full Text of the Sunday Readings
Detailed Commentary


The Feeding of the Five Thousand by William Hole (1846-1917) | Edinburgh University Library | PD-US

The Real Presence

Bishop Barron offers a reflection on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist based on the “Bread of Life Discourse” from John 6. The focus of the reflection begins on how Jesus’ words would have been heard by the 1st century listeners – and explains how Jesus never intended mere symbolism alone, but points to the Real Presence.