Walking Through Lent With Mark

Yesterday was the first gathering of a six-session Lent Scripture Study at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes devoted to a study of Mark’s Gospel.

I opened the session by talking about why study and prayer with Scripture is not incidental, but is centrally important to our life of Christian discipleship.  Speaking of the emphasis the Church as placed, particularly in recent years, on our mission to evangelize, I quoted Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhoratation, where he writes

The study of the sacred Scriptures must be a door opened to every believer.  It is essential that the revealed word radically enrich our catechesis and all our efforts to pass on the faith.  Evangelization demands familiarity with God’s word, which calls for dioceses, parishes and Catholic associations to provide for a serious, ongoing study of the Bible, while encouraging its prayerful individual and communal reading.  We do not blindly seek God, or wait for him to speak to us first, for “God has already spoken, and there is nothing further that we need to know, which has not been revealed to us”. Let us receive the sublime treasure of the revealed word. (par. 175)

In today’s session, I gave a brief introduction to Mark’s Gospel and then addressed Mark 1:1 – 3:3 – the preparation for Jesus’ public ministry and his early Galilean ministry.  After talking about Jesus’ baptism and temptation in the desert, I spoke about each of the three important categories of events in that section of Mark: the call of the first disciples and of Levi, several healings, and – already this early in Mark – some controversies with Jewish leaders and rejection by the Pharisees.  We had a lively discussion of each of these, as well as some time for individual reflection.

Here is the division of Mark’s Gospel as we will address it in our remaining five sessions.  If you are in the Twin Cities area, you are welcome to join us, even if you missed the first session.

Session 2 (3/1)            Mark 3:7-6:6a (Patrice Stegbauer will lead this session, while I am at a conference at Pepperdine)

Session 3 (3/8)            Mark 6:6b-8:30

Session 4 (3/15)          Mark 8:31-10:52

Session 5 (3/22)          Mark Chapter 11-13

Session 6 (3/29)          Mark Chapters 14-16 (Our seminarian Grant Theis will lead this session, while I am away giving a weekend retreat for St. Catherine’s University.)

I am suggesting to participants that they read in advance the passages we will be discussing at each session and to spend some time reflecting on these questions:

What did I hear in a new way as I read this portion of Mark’s Gospel?

What did I read that is particularly challenging to me?

What did I read that resonated most deeply? Or that gave me great consolation?

Even if you can’t join us for our sessions, these are good questions for you to reflect on.