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Ink Slingers

Mark’s Questions

I read the gospel of Mark over the weekend, beginning with the historical prologue. I love this information, as the New Testament did not fall intact from heaven, but was hard-fought by Church leaders for hundreds of years. The earliest manuscripts of this book are titled, “According to Mark” and it has been the Church’s uniform tradition that the author was that disciple of Peter’s whom he called his son (I Peter 5:13). Also referred to as John Mark, a combination of his Jewish and Roman names, he traveled with Paul, too (Acts 12:25). It seems that his gospel was written before AD 70. He relates Christ’s prophesy that the temple would be destroyed, which occurred in AD 70, with no mention of it as a past event. Some ancient writers (Irenaeus and Eusebius) hold that Mark wrote soon after Peter’s martyrdom in AD 67 or even earlier, during the reign of Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54). Either idea, it is safe to say it was written by AD 70. He wrote for Gentile believers in Rome, often explaining Jewish customs for his readers and translating Aramaic words into Latin or Greek. The climax of his Gospel is the exclamation by a Roman soldier, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (It’s really hard to read that in anything other than a John Wayne accent!).

 

Mark’s Questions

There are dozens of questions peppered throughout this book, asked by every character. I think that Mark wanted his readers to be questioned and challenged and driven toward a reckoning. Here are many of those questions I found and who asked them, in my reading from beginning to end:

What is this? A new teaching?
People in synagogue

Why does this man speak like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?
Scribes

Why do you question like this in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven or rise and walk’?
Jesus

Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners? 
Scribes  

Why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath (plucking grain to eat)?
Pharisees

Have you never read what David and his men did when they were hungry?
Jesus

Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or harm; to save life or kill?
Jesus

Who are my mother and brothers?
Jesus

Do you understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?
Jesus

Teacher, do you not care if we perish?
Disciples

Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?
Jesus

Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?
Disciples

What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the most high God?
Unclean spirit in a man

What is your name?
Jesus

Who touched me?
Jesus

Why do you make a tumult and weep?
Jesus

Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him?
People from home

What shall I ask?
Herod

Shall we buy 200 denarii worth of bread and give it to them? 
Disciples

How many loaves do you have?
Jesus

Why does this generation seek a sign?
Jesus

Do you not remember?
Jesus

Who do you say I am?
Jesus

What are you discussing?
Jesus

Oh faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?
Jesus

Why could we not cast it out?
Disciples

What must I do to inherit eternal life?
Rich man

Who can be saved?
Disciples

Are you able to drink the chalice that I drink or be baptized with my baptism?
Jesus

What do you want me to do for you?
Jesus

Is it not written, my house shall be a house of prayer for the nations?
Jesus

Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?
Pharisees

Which commandment is the first of all?
Scribes

Why was the ointment wasted?
Disciples

Why do you trouble her?
Jesus

Are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?
Jesus

Are you the Christ, the son of the blessed?
Priests and scribes

What evil has he done?
Pilate

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Jesus

Who will roll away the stone for us?
Women

 

Answers

The answers can change a life and begin ripples of goodness. Jesus is God and man. He heals, forgives, eats, gives, speaks, loves. We, His friends and brothers, can listen, believe, give, act, join, and love. Another noteworthy tidbit is that the word “immediately” appears over forty times in the sixteen chapters: the spirit immediately drove him; they immediately left their nets; Jesus immediately left the synagogue. It is a new year; let us consider these questions and our answers immediately.

Categories
Catechism Doctrine Faith Formation Feast Days Ink Slingers Kerri Saints

The Catechism at Random: Preaching the Gospels

CatechismCoverSmallLacking any inspiration for a topic for today’s post I decided to make use of a little exercise that I often hear one of my local Catholic radio personalities use: Dial a Catechism!

I grabbed my Catechism, went to Random.org and put in the total number of paragraphs. My random number for this round of “Dial a Catechism” was 75.

Here’s what I found:

I. The Apostolic Tradition

75 “Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline.”

I couldn’t help but read that paragraph and think of the New Evangelization that’s been the hot topic in Catholic circles since Blessed John Paul II and has gained lots of momentum in the last few years. Although this paragraph is speaking mainly about the tradition of preaching the Gospel in the Apostolic tradition, i.e., passed down through our ordained clergy, we the laity are also called to be a part of this priesthood by virtue of our own baptisms.

This passage thus speaks to me loud and clear and I wonder sometimes if I’m living up to it. Do I share the Gospel, or at the very least, the essence of the Gospel, with those around me? Am I doing my best to live by what is taught in the Gospels? Am I teaching my children to know and love the Gospel message of Jesus Christ?

We’re not all necessarily called to preach the Gospel, but we’re all called to live it and share it with others, whether that be through word or action.

Sometimes I think about this idea and wonder if I’m doing enough. Has anyone found their way back to the Church because of me? Has anyone decided to look into the Catholic Church because of something I said or did? These are the kinds of things I may never know. And I think that’s how it ought to be.

If I knew that I actually had an influence on someone to join or come back to the Church, it might make me a little too confident in my abilities to spread the Gospel message. This wouldn’t be good for me, I need the humility that comes with not knowing. Likewise, if I knew that my efforts as a Catholic had no affect whatsoever on the people whose lives I touch, I might become discouraged. Not only that, but I might lose a little of my faith as well. I certainly don’t want to become deflated in my own zeal for the Church just because I haven’t personally converted someone. Maybe I’m not meant to, maybe God has other plans for me, maybe I’m only here to help plant seeds and the bigger work will be done by others.

I think that’s one of the beauties of our Catholic faith and of the Gospel message. As Catholics we form a community- a very large community worldwide. As St. Paul says (and I’m paraphrasing), we are all many parts that make up one body. Our priests are called to preach the Gospel from the pulpit, some laity are also called to preach the Gospel in public ways. We have religious sisters and brothers who pray for the Church and the people of the world and we have religious who go out and care for the poorest of the poor, teach in schools, minister to the sick, and so forth.

And finally, we have the bulk of the Church, the vast majority of the laity, who are here to live in the world and spread the Gospel message in little ways. It may be that we’re here to teach the Gospel of Jesus to our children only. Maybe we have a somewhat wider influence and can help bring extended families members or friends back to the Church. Or maybe we’ll touch the lives of coworkers or others we meet, even if it’s just to plant seeds.

Whatever it is for me (I’m still figuring it out), I’m realizing more and more that I need to become more familiar with the Gospels themselves. The actual four Gospels of the Bible. I know the stories, I’ve heard them proclaimed at Mass for years and years. But do I really know what they say? Have I studied them? Prayed over them? Read through them?

The answer? Not fully.

I’ve done some Bible Studies years ago on one or two of the Gospels, but I need to know my Bible much better. So, I’m starting now (or more appropriately, I’m restarting now).

If we look back at paragraph 75 of the Catechism and read on we see in paragraph 76 that the Gospel has been passed on in two different ways: orally and in writing. We often think of the oral transmission of the Gospel as something that only occurred in the first few hundred years after Christ’s death before the Gospels were written down and extending beyond that through the time when most people in the world were still illiterate. We take for granted, I think, the fact that we now have the Bible in written form so readily available to us. But we mustn’t forget that the Gospel is still being preached to us orally and always will be as long as we have the Mass available to us.

Happy Feast Day, St. Luke
Happy Feast Day, St. Luke

We must learn to not only read our own Bibles, but to listen to the Word being proclaimed to us as well. In addition, we have to live the Gospel message and thus proclaim the Good News to our fellow man through our actions and in who we are. Not an easy feat at all. I’m sure I fail at this on a regular basis. No, I’m not sure, I know I do.

I also think it isn’t entirely random that I picked paragraph 75 for this post. It seems very appropriate considering that today is also the feast day of St. Luke, one of our Gospel writers.

In honor of St. Luke, I’ll be picking up my Bible today and reading some of his Gospel. It’s where I left off in my last attempt to start reading more of my Bible, so it seems appropriate to start there. Won’t you join me?

Categories
Adrienne Communion Doctrine Faith Formation Ink Slingers Mass Sacraments Sacred Scripture

Bible 101: Beginning with a Beginner

Gospel of John Chapter 1, NAB

“In the beginning…” Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1

I’ve been attending Mass all my life, and thus whether or not I was listening, I have been exposed to the whole Bible, most all passages as least once, and many passages (especially those in the Gospels) more times than could ever be counted. Yet… until recently I couldn’t have told you squat about squat in the Bible. So, here’s my attempt to help the me of yester-year (or, maybe even last year, or the year before). And for anyone out there who is at a similar place of complete indirection, I am inviting you into the Bible with me! I’m no Bible scholar, I’ve taken no formal classes, I have no credentials to do this … come, join me!

I’m planning to do a series on this subject, but have no plan laid out, except to get you to a place that you should be able to figure out where to find something in the Bible, beginning with the Gospels and the New Testament. Did I already lose you?

Many years ago I was watching an episode of Friends where the guys are in a hotel, and Ross steals the Bible from the nightstand drawer. Chandler asks Ross (a Jew) what he’s going to do with it, because it’s a New Testament! “Huh!” I thought. Yes, it was a light bulb moment. That’s how I learned that the New Testament has Jesus in it. The Old doesn’t. Thank you, Friends! I’m still impressed that at that time I even knew it was Jesus who separated Jews from Christians (Christians accept Jesus as the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, the Jews do not and are still preparing for the Messiah).

When I was just beginning Catholic apologetics, I knew I needed (and had) Scripture on my side, and I would find my self asking the question, “I wonder where all in the Bible we can find out what Jesus actually said and did?” The answer was painted in the cupola of my parish church…. it would be Matthew, Mark, Luke and John… you know, the four Gospel writers. It was then I finally learned what distinguished the Gospels from other books in the Bible. Though, that left me wondering what was in the remaining 69 books…. I mean, isn’t the Bible supposed to be about God, and Jesus? Why only four books for Jesus? We’ll get to that in my series of rambling posts on beginning Scripture!

So, journey with me, your utterly unqualified tour guide, through the Sacred Scriptures! I’m hoping for an interactive learning experience. So please leave your questions (and encouragement!) in the com boxes, and for the Biblically enlightened among us, please, share your knowledge in the com boxes!

Up Next…

Next time we will be exploring Scripture in the Mass!  You’re on pins and needles, aren’t you?  I can see it in the glow of the screen on your face.  I love your enthusiasm!!

Homework

I will be assigning homework with each post to keep things interactive.  Today’s homework is to either find your Bible at home, or click the link below!  There.  You have a Bible at your fingertips.

Find readings for any day of the week and find also the Bible online here: http://www.usccb.org/bible/.