Read slowly and ponder

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

March 24, 2024 –Palm Sunday, Mark 14:1-15:47

Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.


This Palm Sunday we read about the suffering and death of Jesus along with the many details that led to this event. Biblical scholars suggest that this gospel account is among the earliest narratives recorded by the first Christians. In other words, the bedrock on which the rest of the life of Jesus rests. Like myself, many of us have heard this gospel read in church on this, the first day of Holy Week.

Before I compose thoughts about each Sunday’s gospel, I quietly read them in the silence of our home. When I read today’s gospel, I was struck by how much of it I never thought about while listening to this gospel read in a church full of others, who might have thought this was a kind of “marathon” gospel. Some churches even have the congregants sit during its reading. The power of this gospel might have been diminished by those circumstances.

So, you have the chapters and verses in Mark’s gospel listed above. Take out your Bible (or go online) and quietly read the whole gospel. Slowly. Reread lines that cause you wonder. Notice the details, all of them. There are surprisingly many. Think about the responses of Peter. And of the others who were close to Jesus, men and women. Ask yourself why this or that detail was remembered, perhaps decades after the actual events too place. Why are they important?


Try to get into the mind of Jesus. What was he feeling and thinking as the dramatic events of that time were happening to him and around him? What did he say or when did he choose silence - and why? Try to imagine what was going on inside him as the excruciating hours and minutes slowly passed. How did he feel when those closest to him fell asleep while he prayed in the garden? Or what was he thinking about while he was lifted up and nailed to a cross? 


And most of all, be aware of your own thoughts, feeling and reactions. It’s hard to do that in a church filled with people, some of whom you might know, but many who are total strangers. In your quiet reading, if you need a few moments to think about what you just read, do that. There’s no rush. Reread sections that cause you wonder or surprise. Each and every word of this gospel reading is important.


There is a name for the practice I am suggesting. It’s called Lectio Divina. If you want to learn more about this powerful and prayerful way of reading Scripture, there is helpful guidance online.

 David M. Thomas, PhD


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