Reflection on Mark 6:1-13: 6th Sunday after Pentecost: Independence Day July 4, 2021

The Gospel of Mark 6:1-13

Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Let us Pray: A Prayer for Independence Day

God, source of all freedom, this day is bright with the memory of those that declared that life and liberty are your gift to every human being. Help us to continue a good work begun long ago. Make our vision clear and our will strong; that only in human solidarity will we find liberty, and justice only in the honor that belongs to every life on earth. Turn our hearts towards the family of nations: to understand the ways of others, to offer friendship, and to find safety in the common good for all. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Do we still judge people by their heritage, and do we suppress them even though they have great potential? For Mark the identity of Jesus continued to be an issue. The important question that Mark had was, Who do you say Jesus is? Do we reject Jesus as the people of Nazareth did? Do we think of the things He did and what he preached as the words of a crazy man as his family did? Challenges will always face us and these challenges may cause us to doubt our faith as the people of Nazareth had done. Do you think it feels today we are living in a Nazareth-world, a culture that is, at best is disinterested in Jesus? We too are apt to restrict what we think about what Jesus can do through God in our lives and our communities. This Gospel challenges us to consider how we may be encouraging or inhibiting God’s work in our lives, our communities, and our world. What might be blocking God’s ability to work through us? We have been called in our baptism to serve Jesus Christ and his kingdom, but are there factors that are stopping us, regrets we cannot overcome, grudges we will not surrender, addictions we tolerate, or angers or hurts that blind our vision? When Jesus taught in the synagogue people wondered who he thought he was, they knew He was the son of a carpenter, so they dismissed him as one of them, not as a prophet. As we look at the second part of this Gospel, there are new thoughts as Jesus sends his disciples out.  Jesus’ instructions called for the disciples to focus on mission rather than personal comfort.  Jesus called them to a great purpose, and they were not to be distracted by details.  That emphasis is timeless. The disciples go where Christ sends them and do what Christ tells them to do.  They were ordinary men, that accomplished great things in Christ’s name. As we go out it’s a good idea to look at the principles behind a particular instruction as a way of helping us determine whether and how to apply that instruction to ourselves in our day. The wisdom of Jesus was not just a statement. He lived it. His way of life was sharing this love by healing, consoling, and telling his stories.  It is our choice to open our minds and hearts and cherish the abundant gifts that Jesus blesses us with, or to always want more than the riches we already have! Our happiness depends on our choice. It is true that our lives are not perfect. However, we are abundantly blessed! Jesus is at work in our lives! People found the love of God in him. He called them and also calls us to believe with joy that all of us are brothers and sisters. Jesus treated people with love, and they knew it. Jesus said that what marks us as his true disciples is that we love one another. Now there’s an instruction that means exactly the same thing today as it did when it was first given. Wouldn’t it be great if we gave that one more attention?

For the Nation from BCP 838

Almighty God, giver of all good things:

We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land.

They restore us, though we often destroy them.

Heal us.

They restore us, though we often destroy them.

Heal us.

We thank you for the great resources of this nation. They

make us rich, though we often exploit them.

Forgive us.

We thank you for the men and women who have made this

country strong. They are models for us, though we often fall

short of them.

Inspire us.

We thank you for the torch of liberty which has been lit in

this land. It has drawn people from every nation, though we

have often hidden from its light.

Enlighten us.

We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all its rich

variety. It sustains our life, though we have been faithless

again and again.

Renew us.

Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun.

Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice,

and to abolish poverty and crime. And hasten the day when

all our people, with many voices in one united chorus, will

glorify your holy Name. Amen.

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