Saturday, September 16, 2017

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Year A
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Images

God’s gifts are unlimited


Points to note

This is a long parable reading and deals with concepts of ‘unfairness’ with which adults often struggle.  Children encounter these similar concepts of ‘unfairness’ in what we see as their own little childish ways.  Or is it we, adults, who react to such ‘unfairness’ in childish ways.  In this sense, to discuss this with children could be difficult unless the facilitator has, at least to a certain extent, come to terms with this ‘unfairness’.  Care should also be taken that we do not project our prejudices on the children.


Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in the heaven and glory in the highest heavens!
Alleluia!

Gospel
Jesus has explained forgiveness to his disciples and he expects everybody to forgive everyone.

The Lord be with you.
All:   And also with you.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All:   Glory to you O Lord

(Mt 20: 1-16)
Jesus said to his disciples, “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at sunrise to hire workers for his vineyard.  He made an agreement with his workers for RM30, and sent them to his vineyard.  Going out at about 9 o’clock he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.”  So they went.  At about noon and again at about 3 o’clock, he went out and did the same.  Then at about the 5 o’clock he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?”  “Because no one has hired us,” they answered.  He said to them, “You go off into my vineyard too”.  In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his accountant, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.”  So those who were hired at about the 5 o’clock came forward and received $30 each.  When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received $30 each.  They took it, but grumbled at the landowner.  “The men who came last,” they said, “have done only one hour’s work, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in al the heat.”  He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on $30?  Take your earnings and go.  I choose to pay the last-comer as much as I pay you.  Have I no right to do what I like with my own?  Why be jealous because I am generous?”  Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.

This is the Word of the Lord


Dialogue

Describe the scenario: the child was caught fighting with the little brother or sister.  Mom comes along and had a severe punishment for the child, but little brother or sister got off without even a telling off.  Do they feel it is fair?  Get them to describe any other situations like this.  Be careful that the whole session does not get too vindictive!

Ever played a game, like football, with the rest of the team?  Or on sports day?  (You may use any other team activity such as putting together a collage with others, etc.)  Imagine that the child played very hard and ran a lot during the game or race.  Some others did not do so much work.  But because it is a team effort, everyone gets a prize irrespective of the effort put in.  How does the child feel about it?  Is it fair?  Encourage different points of view.

Ask the child to imagine him or herself as the one who was less skilled or talented and yet got the same prize as others.  How would this child feel?  Is it fair for such a child to feel like that?

Go thorough the story again and see what workmen felt, those who worked all day and those who worked only one hour.  
·       What do you think those who worked one hour thought they will get when time came for them to be paid?  Do you think they expected a full day’s pay?  How do you think they felt when they got a full day’s pay?
·       What do you think those who worked all day thought when they saw those who worked one hour get a full day’s pay?  Do you think they thought they will get more than those who worked one hour?  Why?  How do you think they felt when they got exactly the same?
·       How do you think those who worked one hour and got a full day’s pay felt when they saw those who worked all day getting the same as them?

Relate it to the message of Jesus.  All people who are saved belong to the one big happy family of God.  And all members of the same family will enjoy the same rewards from the same father, just as all members of the same team get the same prize.  There is only one reward: going to heaven.  There is no such thing as a lower grade of heaven.  Either we make it to heaven or we don’t.  And everyone who does, gets to the same heaven.

There are people who committed their lives to living in a community, like nuns and some priests.  Those who are able work more.  Those who can’t work as much as they can.  Those who are able draw little from the common funds.  Those who are sick draw as much as they need.  Maybe, the kingdom of God is a little like that.  People contribute as much as they can and takes as much as they need: everyone gets the same chance of life.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A
Twenty-fourth Ordinary Sunday


Images

Forgiving others


Points to note

Every child loves a story.  So, tell this story well.  If necessary, embellish it with details.  To do this, though, you will have to prepare well for it.  Take your time with the story.  It is dramatic.  Tell it with drama. 

You may want to dramatise the actions, perhaps, even get the children to act out the roles.  Be careful with the choice for the roles.  A sensitive child should not play the role of the first servant. 

The reading should be able to lead the children on to something very close to them, the Our Father.  The parable isn’t just a fun story or even a moralising one.  It deals very much with the Christian love triangle between God, our neighbour and ourselves.  It is important to emphasise the words of the prayer that we pray every day; and the concept that we should not expect forgiveness from God if we do not forgive in our turn.

Introduce the concept of justice to the children.  This concept however may be a little too abstract for some but you can tackle it through the concept of fairness.  Children normally have a keen sense of fairness and it would be expected for them to react as the other servants had in the story.




Liturgy


Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:
you have the message of eternal life.
Alleluia!

Gospel
The Lord be with you.
All:   And also with you.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All:   Glory to you O Lord

 (Mt 18: 21-35)
Peter went up to Jesus and said, “Lord, how often must I forgive my brothers if he does something wrong to me?  As often as seven times?”  Jesus answered, “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.

“And so the kingdom of heaven is like a king who decided to his servants to settle what they owed him.  When the counting began, they brought him a man who owed him $10 million; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all that he owned, to meet the debt.

At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet.  “Give me time,” he said, “and I will pay you the whole sum.”  And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt.

Now, as the servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him $10; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him.  “Pay what you owe me,” he said.  His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.”  But the other would not agree; instead, he had him thrown into prison until he paid the debt.

His fellow servants were upset when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported it to him.  Then the master sent for him.  “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me.  Should you not, then, have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?”  And in his anger, the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt.  And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion

Go through the story with the children again.  Discuss how the various persons in the story would have felt:  the king on seeing the first servant pleading at his feet; the servant on being told of his debts and then, that his debts are cancelled;  the second servant of being told of his debt and then, being thrown into prison;  the other servants and the king on hearing that the second servant has been thrown into prison.  In the discussion, the fairness and justice of the affair should be questioned.

Draw the analogy of the story with ourselves, that God is the king and we are the servants.  God watches over us in our actions to forgive us our wrongs.  But he also watches over us to ensure that we forgive our neighbours.

Discuss also the role of the other servants.  They didn't stand aside when they saw the injustice.  Instead, they reported to their employer.  So, do we stand aside or do we do something when we see something wrong.



Finish off by bringing up the Our Father.  Discuss the significance of the line Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Note that we are effectively asking God not to forgive us if we do not forgive others. 

Do not recite the Our Father during the LSW.  Liturgically, the place for the Our Father is during the communion rite - you are still in the Liturgy of the Word.  But explain to the children that you expect them to reflect carefully.  Ask the children to remember that line in the Our Father the next time they pray the prayer, which is soon at the mass.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Twenty-three Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A

Twenty-third Ordinary Sunday



Images


I am my brother’s keeper


Points to note

Last week, we dealt with how Jesus reacted to Peter who made a mistake.  This Sunday, we deal with a central theme in our everyday life:  What do we do when someone else makes a mistake?

Care must be taken to ensure that the discussion does not centre on the mistake that the someone else did, but rather on our reaction to that mistake.  Some children are notorious as ‘tell-tales’ and intervention is often required to keep the discussion on track.


Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel

Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Your word is truth, O Lord,
consecrate us in the truth.
Alleluia!

Gospel

This passage takes place after the Transfiguration, and Jesus was discussing with his disciples about the Church.



The Lord be with you.
All:   And also with you.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All:   Glory to you O Lord
 (Mt 18: 15-20)
Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves.  If he listens to you, he has won back your brother.  If he does not listen, take one or two others with you:  the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge.  But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; or if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a leper or a tax collector.

“I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you considered loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

“I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion

Have you heard of the saying ‘I am not my brother’s keeper’?  It was Cain’s response when God asked him where Abel was (Gn 4:9).  What kind of person was Cain?  He murdered his brother, Abel.  You may wish to go through the story of why Cain killed Abel - because Cain got jealous when God liked Abel’s sacrifice more than Cain’s.  Discuss the type of person who would use the saying - someone who is afraid or not bothered about his brother.  Explain that ‘brother’ in this context, does not just refer to a member of the family, but to any member of the community.

Have you ever seen your brother or sister in the family done something wrong?  Careful here, we do not want a long diatribe of dirty linen being washed in public!!  Damper it down if necessary and move on.  Note that this does not refer to wrongdoing done by the child, but by others.

Point out that even if it were a wrongdoing where no one gets hurt, Mom and Dad would still be angry.  Discuss what the child would do if Mom and Dad still haven't found out.  Would they tell at the first instance, or would they remonstrate with the wrongful sibling?  If the sibling were still unrepentant, would the child then inform the parents?  I find that in many circumstances, there is no right and wrong answer to this question.  Even for us as adults, or maybe, especially for us as adults (would you turn in your own child if he/she commits a crime?  A small crime?  A big crime?).  So, don’t be dogmatic with the answer.

If there is time, expand the discussion to brothers and sisters in the community.

Explain to the children that as the Church is one family, it also has a head like our parents at home.  As head of the Church, God would not like it if somebody in the family sins.  As a member of the family, we have a responsibility to do for a fellow member of our community what we should do for our sibling at home who has done any wrongdoing.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A

Twenty second Ordinary Sunday



Images

Being told off and making up


Points to note

Although this passage has much for an adult to dwell upon, there may be little for children, if careful linking is not made with other passages.  Last Sunday’s reading places this week’s reading in that context.  To have read of the rebuke to Peter without the preceding investiture as Pope loses some of its sting.

Children love a good story.  The story of the confession of Peter, Jesus handling of the keys to him and the subsequent rebuke should be read with the drama it deserves.  Care should be taken if role playing is to be attempted as a rebuke is involved.  Neither child playing Jesus nor Peter should be allowed to take the rebuke too seriously to avoid anyone getting hurt.

Ultimately, the message driven home is that, no matter how bad of foolish we have been, Jesus continues to call us to be his followers.

Liturgy


Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
May the father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our mind,
so that we can see what hope his call holds for us.

Gospel
Peter has just been made the first Pope by Jesus after correctly identifying Jesus as the Son of God.

The Lord be with you.
All:   And also with you.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All:   Glory to you O Lord
 (Mt 16: 21-27)
Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was supposed to go to Jerusalem and suffer at the hands of the Jews, to be put to death and to be raised on the third day.  Then, taking him aside, Peter started to plead with him.  “Heaven preserve you, Lord,” he said, “This must not happen to you.”  But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!  You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follow me, let him give up everything and take up his cross and follow me.  For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for me will find it.  So what will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life?  Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life? 

“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion


Retell the story to include Peter’s profession of faith.  If possible, make it as dramatic as possible as it must have been a dramatic event!

How did you think Peter reacted when Jesus called him Satan.  Explain carefully what Jesus meant when he called Peter Satan (refer to adult’s guide).  Discuss what Peter must have felt when he was told off by Jesus.  Remember that Peter has just been consecrated as Pope by Jesus and couldn’t have felt any prouder in his whole life.  He must have felt very let down by himself.

Discuss also what the other disciples felt when seeing their leader rebuked by Jesus.  Some may even have felt that no one will ever make the standards that Jesus has set if even Peter couldn’t meet it.

Have you ever felt like what Peter has felt?  You feel useless and everyone else is despairing of you if you will ever be good enough.  Try drawing out the experiences from the children.

What did Jesus actually say to Peter?  Note that Jesus asked Peter to stand behind him.  Now, only followers would stand behind a leader.  If you don’t want someone to be near you, you tell them to get lost!!  So, in the same remark, Jesus followed up the rebuke with a reconciliation.  This reminds us that he will stand by us and help us even if we fail again and again.  Are there any other stories about Peter not doing things right but Jesus gave him another chance?  Peter walking on water; Peter denying Jesus three times.