Notes: Week beginning 29 January 2018. (Catholic Education Week)
Ordinary week 4, Year 2 (lectionary vol. 2, p. 498 and following)
General We continue the saga of King David, ending in his death and the succession of Solomon as king. In Mark' gospel, we bring one section to a close, and open up a new episode in Jesus’ Galilean ministry. This involves the death of John the Baptist and the feeding of the five thousand, two stories placed beside each other only in Mark’s gospel. Friday: Feast, Presentation of the Lord, with its Proper Readings. This week is Catholic Education Week, and within the 100th anniversary of Catholic State Schools in Scotland
Monday's readings (29 January):
2 Samuel 15:13 14. 30; 16:5 13 Much of David's life prophetically foreshadows that of Jesus. In this case, David is betrayed by his son and also by one of his closest advisors. David is here on the Mount of Olives, and he weeps over Jerusalem, as Jesus did some 1000 year later.
Mark 5:1 20 So far in Mark’s gospel, Jesus' miracles have been described very quickly; now however we have a lengthy account of a strange miracle worked in pagan territory. Notice that once again the evil spirits shout out that they know who Jesus is. In this story, the evil spirits are allowed by Jesus to enter a herd of pigs unclean animals that were totally unvalued by Jewish people.
Tuesday's readings (30 January):
2 Samuel 18:9-10. 24-25. 30 – 19:3) Absalom is finally killed, and King David’s reign is preserved, but the passage ends with the focus on David the grief stricken father mourning the death of his son, rather than the king who has put down an attempt to save his throne.
Mark 5:21 43 Crossing back to ‘the other side’ of the lake (these crossing to and from gentile territory are important in Mark), we are presented with two miracles of healing. One tale is told within the context of the other. Both are stories of women who have been written off as being as good as dead – a woman with an incurable medical condition; a 2 year old girl written off as dead. Jesus literally gives both a new lease of life.
Wednesday's readings (31 January):
2 Samuel 24:2. 8-17 Here is another passage which is difficult for us to understand: David offends God by taking a census of the people. Why is this so bad? It has been suggested that the census was to find out how many men David could call upon for military service, and that he was relying on his own resources rather than trusting in God. David soon recognises his lack of trust in God and repents. Because he is king, the nation shares his punishment, but David tries to take responsibility for his own sin.
Mark 6:1 6 This brings to an end the first major section in Mark’s gospel. Jesus faces hostility in his home town’s synagogue. Because of their lack of faith in him, he can work no miracles among them. In this gospel, we will never hear again that Jesus goes into any synagogue.
Thursday's readings (1 February):
1 Kings 2:1-4. 10-12 The final days of King David. He gives instructions to his son Solomon, whom he has decreed will succeed him. We see here something of David as prophet. We shall soon see however that David’s prophetic words of what might be if Solomon lives in God’s ways will not be fulfilled. Solomon and his successors were for the most part inept and/or bad kings
Mark 6:7-13 After being rejected by the people of his home town, and in their synagogue too, Jesus has a number of options. Will he withdraw for a while to consider his options? Will he abandon his own people since they have rejected him? Jesus does neither of these: he re-launches his ministry by enlisting the help of the twelve whom he had chosen earlier in the gospel. These are sent out to do exactly what Jesus himself has been doing: preaching repentance, casting out devils, curing the sick.
Friday's readings (2 February; Presentation of the Lord, Lect. Vol. 2 p. 940):
Malachi 3:1-4 This gives the prophetic background to the gospel story of Jesus’ infancy presentation in the Temple. Malachi (the Hebrew word for ‘messenger’) prophesies the day when the Lord whom the people seek will suddenly enter his Temple; it is fulfilled in today’s gospel.
(Alt. 1st rdg: Hebrews 2:14-18 This gives us an additional ‘take’ on the idea of the Lord appearing in his Temple, one that Malachi could never have foreseen: when it happens, God has taken human form, making him (Jesus) completely like all his brothers and sisters – except, that is, for sin.)
Luke 2:22 40 When Mary and Joseph take the child Jesus to the Temple, they fulfil what the law requires of them as Jewish parents; but they also fulfil the prophecy of Malachi.
Saturday's readings (3 February):
1 Kings 3:4-13 We return to the often troubled narrative of Israel’s monarchy. Solomon’s reign gets off to a good start. He offers sacrifice and when in a dream (often an Old Testament vehicle for God’s revelation) he is asked what he requests from God, he wisely asks for a heart that can distinguish between good and evil. This reminds us that the Hebrews thought of the heart as where people think, where decisions are made.
Mark 6:30-34 The Twelve (called ‘apostles’ only in this passage in Mark’s gospel). They come back full of details of their exploits, although we are not given any details of these. Jesus, like a good shepherd, invites them to come and take rest, since they have not even had time to eat (overtones of the Psalm ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’ here). But the plan fails, because the crowd have worked out where they have gone. Jesus takes pity on them because they are like sheep without a shepherd (that theme again); he responds by teaching them. Again, details of the actual words of Jesus’ teaching are missing.