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This Sunday's Programme

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12th Sunday Year B

Sunday 23rd June 2024

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Mk 4: 35-41

On the same day, when he had finished preaching to the crowds, Jesus said, “Let’s go over to the other side.” When they had sent the crowd away, they took him, just as he was, into the ship. Other boats went along with them. Suddenly a fierce storm blew up, and waves crashed over the ship so that it filled with water. But Jesus was in the stern, with his head on a pillow, asleep. They roused him, saying, “Teacher, don’t you care? We are going to die!” Rising to his full height, he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind dropped and all became profoundly calm and still. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so timid, so cowardly? Don’t you have any faith?” A great terror and awe came over them and they asked each other, “Who is this person that the wind and sea obey him?”

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 106:23-26, 28-31

There are those who go out to sea in ships,
who do their business across the waters.
They see the works of God,
the mighty deeds God does upon the deep.

God commands: the winds howl
the seas rage,
The waves rise up to the heavens and then plunge down into the deep.
The sailors dissolve in terror.

They cry to God from their distress,
and God hears them in their anguish.
He turns the tempest into calm,
and stills the waves of the sea.

They rejoice in the calm
and God brings them to their desired harbour.
Oh that all would acclaim the praises of God
and tell of his wonderful deeds!

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Too often, loving God, I have felt you have been asleep in the difficult times of my life. Give me the faith to always trust you in spite of my fears. When the storm has past give me the vision to see how you were present working all to my good.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

This short dramatic story opens a new section in the Gospel of Mark and sets the tone for what is to follow. From here till Mk 8:27 we have a series of miracle stories in which Jesus confronts Satan and the demonic powers in various situations in which people believe evil held sway: in the sea, in demonic possession, in death and illness. There are two versions of each story. In this Sunday’s reading, Jesus travels out of Jewish territory into Gentile territory. Throughout this section, he will move back and forth between the two territories performing similar miracles in each, showing that the power of Satan, over Jew and Gentile, has been broken. Each miracle, each story, raises the question of the identity of Jesus.

In the Old Testament, the sea represented the chaotic, even demonic force, over which God alone had power. From creation and the flood, through the waters of the Red Sea, the experience of sailors in the Psalms, in God’s response to Job, the sea in its fury is a sign and symbol of destructive force which quite simply can sweep people away to death but for the protecting power of God. So when Mark in this reading has Jesus confront the sea and bring down a majestic calm, he is revealing the divine power that has come into the world to defeat evil. Later in Mark’s Gospel there in another account of Jesus in a storm at sea (Mk 6: 45-52). Unfortunately it doesn’t appear in this year’s Sunday readings. This time the disciples are without Jesus, at sea, at night, in a terrifying storm. And Jesus nonchalantly walks by, on the water. No wonder he says to them and to us, “Courage! It’s me! Don’t be afraid.”

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

“He had his head asleep on a pillow.” What an image of tenderness! Jesus must has been so exhausted when he got into the boat that one of the disciples passed him the helmsman’s pillow as the noticed Jesus dropping off. And Jesus readily accepted such kindness. The one who had just recently been in command of the crowds and who had spent himself teaching now is weary, bone weary…and well the disciples understood that. After all, they were all only human. When the disciples wakened him in their fear of the furious storm, they expected him to share their fear and join in with helping bail out the floundering boat. But it didn’t happen like that. The verbs used of Jesus imply an awakening to life and a rising to his full height. His stance is not fear before the storm but rather that of one who steps forward fully in command of himself and whatever is confronting him. The disciples, schooled in the imagery of the Jewish Testament, knew a stormy sea to be the abode of chaotic, demonic forces that only God had control over. But look, their Jesus, their very human Jesus confronts the storm and with a rebuke deep calm falls. And so do the disciples – into profound awe. “Who is this person?” That is a question we should frequently ask ourselves. Not to give a glib answer but rather to live in awe, the way to faith.

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

“Do you not care?” That was an unfair question for the disciples to have asked Jesus. Why he had been asleep, in a very heavy sleep, and wouldn’t have known what was happening. But that question is often hurled against God! The community for whom Mark was writing was experiencing bitter persecution under Nero. Did not Jesus and God care?

When Jesus rebukes the storm, the verb Mark uses was used earlier to cast out a demon. In other words, Jesus, in rebuking the storm, confronts evil on the disciples’ behalf and defeats it. This confrontation with evil continues through the Gospel till the final confrontation at Calvary where Jesus dupes the Evil One and defeats him…but it doesn’t look much like success to those watching, who could well have asked “Did not God care?” It doesn’t look much like success, unless…one had the eyes of faith, like the centurion.

When the storm subsided, the disciples were filled with awe – that crucial component of faith. (You can hear it in the centurion’s response to Jesus’ death.) They were beginning to have a new way of seeing Jesus. Slowly, slowly he will teach them that God does care but in a way that does not take suffering, pain and evil away. God does not save by taking away evil and suffering but rather invites us to join with him in the drama of salvation. As for the church under persecution, so to for us, we must face the question “Does not God care?” and realise that it can only be answered with the response of faith.

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

– Rembrandt The Storm on the Sea of Galilee .

– James Tissot Jesus sleeping during the Tempest.  If you click on the picture it will enlarge  Note the strain on the faces of the disciples and the calm of Jesus.  The same scene a few minutes later, Jesus stilling the Tempest.

– Stephen Gjertson Peace, be Still .

– Giorgio de Chirico Christ and the Storm 

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

As you go through this week, mull on the issues and situations, large or small, that cause you fear.  Notice how many actually happen, and how many are really groundless. Ask the Spirit’s guidance in all of these, real or imagined.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

When you are at peace, ask yourself what things cause you to be fearful. Some may be very real, some may have little basis in reality. Bring them before Jesus, one by one, and ask for his perspective on each of these fears.

Accept the vision and the peace he offers.

Rest in the love of your God.