Saturday, November 18, 2017

Solemnity of Christ the King


Year A
Solemnity of Christ the King


Images

Following Jesus as King


Points to note

There are many aspects to the concept of Christ as King.  We will explore the various aspects in the three times that this feast is celebrated over the cycle.

This year, we deal with the king as a judge in two ways.  The common view is held of judges as those who passes judgements and sentences on the guilty.  Initially, kings would pass judgements personally.  Then gradually as kingdoms get bigger, other able persons were co-opted to assist the king in this role until today, kings no longer personally pass judgements but have professional judges to do so in their name.

But there is another facet to judging. In monarchies until this day, kings (and queens) judges persons who are worthy (normally, they have a panel to assist them in making the selection) and these worthy people get an award or a title (in republics, presidents only hand out awards but not titles).

Today, we explore Jesus’ role as king in both facets of a judge.


Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia, alleluia!
Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessings on the coming kingdom of our father David!
Alleluia!

Gospel
Explain that today is the last Sunday of the Church year and next week we start the season of Advent.

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

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All:   Glory to you O Lord
(Mt 25:31-46)
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.
  
‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”
  
‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”

And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’
This is the Good News of the Lord


Dialogue

Today, we celebrate Jesus as King.  What do kings in olden days do?  (Let’s not look towards the kings of today – most of their work has now been outsourced to others!!).  They may need to refer to the role of lords and kings that they see in movies and TV programmes of olden days.

Of the long lists that emerge, select the role of the judge.  What would you like to do if you were a king judging for one day?  Let the children talk about what they would do to those they don’t like – but spare the gory details.

Would what you do be different if Jesus was doing the judging and you were helping him?  A judge like Jesus has to be fair and a judge only decides based on evidence and not on personal feelings.

Who does Jesus judge?  Lead the children to understand that judging is not only for the guilty but also to reward those who are worthy.

Jesus was judging as a king would.  A judge calls for witnesses to find out what happens because a judge must make a judgement based on evidence.  Would Jesus need witnesses?  No, because Jesus was there when good and bad happened.  All good and bad done to anyone was done to him.  So, he knows what happened without any need for witnesses.


Discuss what this means - that whatever good & bad that was done was done to Jesus.  Have we ever stopped to think about it whenever we do anything good or bad – or hesitated to do anything good or bad.  Maybe, it is something we should do.

There was once a village with three rich brothers.  The first had a huge house with many servants keeping it clean and comfortable.  The second had a huge kitchen with many chefs cooking delicious meals.  The third had a huge workshop with many tailors making beautiful clothes. 

One day, Jesus came to the three brothers in the dream to tell them that he was coming to their village the next day.   When they awoke, the three brothers jump out of bed and ordered their servants to get to work.  The first wanted Jesus to lay his head on the most comfortable bed in the whole country.  The second wanted Jesus to taste the most delicious roast lamb in the whole country. The third wanted Jesus to wear the most beautiful cloak in the whole country.

So, the whole village was hard at work – cleaning, cooking and sewing.  At noontime, an old man, poor, tired with only tied up cloth for shoes came into the village.  He knocked on the door of the first house to ask for some hay to lay his tired head but was turned away by the first brother because his servants were busy preparing the most comfortable bed in the whole country for Jesus.  He then knocked on the door of the second house to ask for some water to quench his thirst but was turned away by the second brother because his servants were busy cooking the most delicious meal in the whole country for Jesus.  He knocked on the door of the third house to ask for some leather to make some sandals for his bleeding feet but was turned away by the third brother because his servants were busy sewing the most beautiful cloak in the whole country for Jesus.

So, the poor old man left the village more tired, hungry and bleeding feet than when he first came.  The village continued to clean, cook and sew until finally the comfortable bed, delicious meal and beautiful cloak for Jesus were all ready but no one came.  That night, the three brothers met Jesus in a dream and they all asked why he didn’t turn up.  Jesus said, “I came and asked for some hay but you didn’t give it to me. I came and asked for some water but you didn’t give it to me. I came and asked for some leather but you didn’t give it to me.”

 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time


Images

Gifts and talents


Points to note

Today’s reading is a very simple story that children can relate to at their level.  I have not translated the value of talent in this reading to modern equivalents in order to preserve the word talent, which we will use in the discussions.  But, if you really want to know: a talent is worth about 20 years wages of a labourer, say about $200,000 or so.

The key is to encourage the children to share their talents and abilities.  If you know all the children to be confident, it is acceptable to take turns to share their talents but such a format tends to eb difficult for those who may be a little hesitant, as it put them under pressure.

Be sensitive to children who have never been encouraged to proclaim their talents or were suppressed in their expressions of self.  Sometimes, you do get a child who has not been conditioned to believe they have a talent or are talented.  Do not pry or insist that they have talents but encourage them with examples of simple gifts that children normally have or, suggest one if you know a talent they personally have.  Do not ask other children to point out talents of that hesitant child as it could back-fire if no one can come up with any.

In truth the money referred to in the reading is not the gifts and talents that God gives us, but I will leave you reflect on the reading – you will have to read the passage carefully.  That’s the beauty of scriptural readings – they yield water at whichever level you dig.


Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia, alleluia!
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
Whoever remains in me bears fruit in plenty. Alleluia!

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

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All:   Glory to you O Lord
(Mt 25:14-30)
Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.
  
‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
  
‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”
  
‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
  
‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
  
‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”
This is the Good News of the Lord


Dialogue

Get the children to share their talents.  You could also get them to point out talents of their friends they know in the group – it is good to get them to affirm each other.

Discuss how they can use their talents to help God and the Church.  There are always the ministries in the Church and at mass.  Discuss how they can contribute to each of these ministries.  If you are laden with ulterior motives, this would be a good time to get volunteer helpers for your church’s Christmas preparations.


Expand their talents to beyond the Church, to how they can bring Christ’s message to the rest of the world.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A
Thirty-second Ordinary Sunday


Images

Preparing for a feast


Points to note

For this Sunday, the theme is limited to the preparation for the feast.  It is important to draw the parallels with the children’s everyday life.  Extract from them their experiences on their preparations for their parties.  They then need to understand that the feast we have in Church is similar to the parties they have had in that preparations need to be made.

The reading itself actually deals with preparations for the life in the hereafter.  I plan to cover this in the later years of the cycle.  However, for the older children, the eschatological aspects of the reading may be broached.  The reading deals more with the implications of not being ready for the feast.  It is crucial therefore that we continue to emphasise the requirement to prepare for Paradise.



Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Stay awake and stand ready,
because you do not know the hour
when the Son of Man is coming.
Alleluia!

Gospel
Explain that Jesus has just denounced some Jews for thinking that they know how to get to heaven by themselves.

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 25: 1-13)
Jesus told this parable to his disciples:  “The kingdom of heaven will be like this:  Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were sensible:  the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps.  The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep.  But at midnight there was a cry, ‘The bridegroom is here!  Go out and meet him.’  At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some of your oil:  our lamps are going out.’  But they replied, ‘There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.’  They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived.  Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed.  The other bridesmaids arrived later.  ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us.’  But he replied, ‘I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.’  So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord.


Discussion

Have you ever held a party before?  A birthday party?  A Christmas party?  Did you help in the preparations?  What did you do?  Where children did not help much in the preparations, ask what the parents and the rest of the family did.  Make the discussion as complete as possible.


The family of the Church also holds celebrations.  When are the celebrations held?  What do we call these celebrations?  Who are the people who make the preparations?  What do they do?  The priest has to prepare for mass; the music ministry prepare the hymns, the altar boys get the altar ready; the church office prepares the bulletins; the altar ladies prepares the flowers; the church is cleaned by the cleaners; the readers practices the readings; the wardens organises the car park and welcomes the people.  What else can anyone think of?  You may wish to dwell on the items that are prepared such as the vessels such as the ciborium (which holds the host) and the chalice (which holds the wine); the altar with the altar cloth and candles; the vestments such as the alb (the white gown  the priest wears over his clothes) and the stole (the strip of cloth the priest wears over his neck).

Discuss how we ourselves prepare for mass: We wake up early, which means we need to get to bed early the night before.  We put on nice clothes to go for mass.  We help our parents to get things ready (getting the younger ones dressed and into the car, or helping get the dinner into the oven).

More importantly, we also prepare ourselves spiritually for mass.  Most families may do it in a different way.  Some may read the Sunday mass readings before-hand while others make do with some simple prayers. It will be also pleasing to God if we can reflect back on the past week – whether there is anything we need to thank God for, give him praise or to ask his forgiveness.  And of course we all try to do good before we go to mass and avoid anything that could be upsetting to God – much like how we try not to upset the birthday boy before and during the birthday party.