Listening to Sunday’s Gospel of Jesus’ healing of the man possessed by an unclean spirit I was reminded by some of the reflections we had on Mark at our Retreat weekend: Disciples of Jesus: Journey with Mark.
For me one of the simplest insights was about continuity. One of my hopes, not often realised, is that homilists might occasionally say ‘as we heard last week’ or ‘as we hear again next week’. That there is a thread running from week to week. With the reflections on Mark’s Gospel I appreciated two further aspects of this. Where does this story feature in Mark’s Gospel as a whole (to be fair to our deacon on Sunday he did say this is one a series of revelations of who Jesus is leading up to Peter’s recognition). I was also struck that we read the text in boxes – the boxes can be the Sunday Gospel or the heading we find in our bible – with the effect, for me at least, of compartmentalising each episode and there fore reducing the connections or flow. To give a simple example the Sunday Gospel starts with ‘Jesus and his followers went…’. One might lose sight of who the followers are: Simon, Andrew, James and John. This is also an example of an incipits – the editorial insertions used to begin a passage. In the Jerusalem Bible the verse just starts ‘They went…’. When preparing a scripture reading it is a useful skill to develop the incipit as helps clarify the context and who is speaking to who.
One of the ways of getting an idea of the shape of Mark’s Gospel is to look at the table in the front of the Lectionary which provides a structure for the readings: at present we have just begun The Mystery progressively revealed. This table is one of the resources shared at the Retreat and is now avail on the website as a special Scripture and RCIA resources page. Here you will find:
- Journeying with Mark – resources from the Retreat
- General Resources – Bibliography and guides to Lection divine and Lectionary based Catechesis
- Seeking the Living God – new sections on the use of Scripture
- Lectionary – the tables of the Gospel in Ordinary Time.
And the title? It is drawn from a prayer by Thomas Cranmer which was used as the stimulus for Bible Sunday.
who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for learning:
help us so to hear them,
to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest then
that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word,
we may embrace and for ever hold fast
the hope of eternal life,
which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.