John 6:24-35

The lectionary continues the journey through John 6. It skips a couple of verses but the overall flow is still there.

[The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.] So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

John 6:[22-23]24-35

The introduction – setting the scene – reminds me very much of Fear and Trembling. The double movement of faith – surrender and receive – setting out mind on things above and receive the Bread of Life.

John 6

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

John 6:1-21

The next five weeks of the lectionary look at John 6. There is a sense of confusion and continuity in the texts. John gives meaning to the old in the life of Jesus. But those who are with Jesus just don’t get it.

compassionate Jesus

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. … When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

I am always struck by how compassionate Jesus is in the gospels. Much more than me. It is something I aim to be but often fail. So, Lord, help me to be more like You!!!

birth of John the Baptist

Today is the festival of the Birth (Nativity) of St John the Baptist. Even APBA has a festival office for the occasion. It is, as a personal note, the liturgical date that I started by journey within the Roman Catholic Church which came to an end almost 12 years later. There is something about that but that is for another post.

John is a hermit-like figure. In iconography, he often has the wings of a messenger and he carries his own decapitated head, a sign of his martyrdom at the hands of Herod. John’s task is to proclaim Jesus knowing that, like Jesus, that will cost his life.

The New Testament illustrates this connection. Mark’s gospel starts with John but quickly moves to Jesus. But there is bridge between the two ministries.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Mark 1:14-15

The verb which is used for John’s arrest is the same verb that is used during Jesus’ passion. I think Mark wants us to draw the connection: John shares in Jesus’ cross with his own life. From the outset, he is a martyr – a witness of Jesus in his life. For John that becomes a truth – he is killed for Jesus. But there is a vital connection to my life:

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

Mark 1:16-20

The previous passage is followed by the calling of the first disciples in Mark’s gospel. It is interesting that John’s call to martyrdom – call to be a witness in his life – is followed by Jesus saying, “Follow me”. The call of faith is to face Jesus’ cross and my own cross. The call is one to sacrificial living as a witness of Jesus.

So blessed feast to all!!!

faith always involves risk

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat[f] to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Mark 5:21-43

This Sunday’s gospel reading is a classic “sandwich”. The meat in the middle is the example of faith by the woman who touches Jesus’ clothing. I am still working on the study so not sure how it will all connect.

I am struck by how this reading draws our attention to people – Jairus, the woman, the daughter, even the crowd. Jesus is almost in a supporting role. And the message for me is that faith always involves risk! Risk in relation to established roles and established ideas. All out of love – for others and ultimately for Jesus. And that risk changes me – physically and spiritually. Not because of what I have done but rather by the very nature of Jesus. Faith jumps even when I cannot see the bottom!

stilling the storm within …

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Mark 4:35-41

I have been working on this Sunday’s gospel reading, Jesus Stills the Storm. Interesting in the context of mission and the original audience of Mark’s gospel. There are forces that try to stop us – I say “try” because Jesus is the ultimate force.

While working on tomorrow night’s study I found this quote from Augustine of Hippo (via Pope Benedict’s “Jesus of Nazareth”):

“When you are insulted, that is the wind. When you are angry, that is the waves. So when the winds blow and the waves surge, the boat is in danger, your heart is in jeopardy, your heart is tossed to and fro. On being insulted, you long to retaliate. But revenge brings another kind of misfortune – shipwreck. Why? Because Christ is asleep in you. What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten Christ. Rouse him, then; remember Christ, let Christ awake within you, give heed to him.… ‘Who is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?’

Healy, Mary. The Gospel of Mark (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture), 97.

Allow Jesus to still the storm within because He has all authority. That is a message for me. Revenge is a shipwreck. I need to move on with Jesus. Jesus in me! Silence and solitude to find Jesus again. Please, Lord!!!!

Pentecost 3B: Mark 4:26-34

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Mark 4:26-34

I wrote about the last verses in the previous post. So I will not rework that idea here.

The two parables are the only ones about the kingdom of God in Mark. And they are pretty clear: God brings growth and that growth is beyond our measure. So what is my job? Focus on Jesus. Listen to Him! Speak to Him! Now to put that into a comprehendible study.

intentionally focused on Jesus

I will preface this post by saying that I am not a philosopher, nor am I a theologian. I am a person who reads and thinks. So the following has no standing in either philosophy or theology (or reasoned argument).

I have been trying to understand phenomenology. Maybe understand is the wrong word!? I am trying to skip the stone on the surface of phenomenology to see where the ripples go to.

So Wikipedia defines it as the

philosophical study of the structures of experience and consciousness.

It is the first part that interests me: what is experience? Maybe to put it more in context, what does it mean to ‘experience Jesus’? I have no answers, either can there be an answer, but I have one observation. And that observation relates directly to this week’s gospel reading, Mark 4:26:34 (about which I will post later).

In that context I stumbled upon the idea of intentionality.

Intentionalism is the thesis that all mental states are intentional, i.e. that they are about something: about their intentional object.

Now, to wrap up a long and convoluted post, to experience Jesus one must be intentionally focused on Jesus.

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Mark 4:33-34

To hear Jesus in the midst of all the noise of this world, one must be listening for Him. And to listen for Him one must be focused on Him alone. The lesson for me is that I need to have times of the day that I am completely focused on Jesus. For me, silence helps. And, of course, Jesus is not an object but a person. So I need to be focused on a person, settle my mind and see with the eyes of faith the Person.

Does any of that make sense?

Mark 3:20-35

Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” – for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 3:20-35

We return to green this Sunday. And we continue our journey through Mark’s gospel. Mark has been speaking about Jesus’ nature and now he moves to discuss discipleship. It is a very rich text that gives plenty of room for meditation – and for preaching.

Phil 2?

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philipians 2:1-11

“emptied himself” – κενόω, verb  

  1. to empty, make empty 
    1. of Christ, he laid aside equality with or the form of God 
  2. to make void 
    1. deprive of force, render vain, useless, of no effect 
  3. to make void 
    1. cause a thing to be seen to be empty, hollow, false