Monday, July 17, 2017

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time



Images

Dreams and sacrifices


Points to note

This reading completes a series of three parables that Jesus told.  For this reading, only the shorter version in the Missal is used.  The longer alternative version has further parables.

This reading contains only two parables with the same theme.  This one theme can generate many messages: possessions, sacrifices, etc.  This reading focuses on the idea of sacrifices.  A more positive slant is given by the lead up where we discuss a little more on dreams for which we are willing sacrifice.


Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
I call you friends, says the Lord,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from our Father.
Alleluia!

Gospel
As this parable follows on directly from that last week, you may wish to revisit the parables of the sower and the wheat & the darnel briefly before starting this reading.

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 13:44-52)
Jesus said to the crowds, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.”

This is the Word of the Lord


Dialogue

What most would you like to do when you grow up?  Guide the discussions towards achievements rather than what jobs the children would like to have.  These achievements need not be big ones that can only be achieved when the children grow up.  It may be something simple like pass the exams or meet Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus (no, they are not my dreams); or something big like fly jet fighters or climb Mount Everest.  Take your time to describe the achievements, focussing on the activities themselves, e.g., the act of climbing.  Discuss how much the children would like to achieve these ambitions.

Discuss what is required for someone to achieve these achievements.  For instance, climbing Mount Everest would require a lot of training in mountain climbing as well as keeping fit.  Passing the exams would require a lot of studying.  Discuss whether these preparations are easy things to do or not.  Some of these efforts require us to give up doing things we enjoy so that we can achieve our dreams.  Discuss whether these preparations are worth the effort.  This will largely depends on how desperate we are to achieve our dreams.


Discuss the parables and how the persons in the parable are willing to give up everything, i.e., sell everything they own.  Link it up with what Jesus is trying to say.  What does the treasure and the pearl represent?  Salvation from doing God’s work.  What does selling everything they owned mean?  We give up everything to do God’s work.  For instance, a priest may give up cherished ambitions (eg., wealth, family) and become a priest.  We give up a lunch or something that we would spend money on to give our Lenten money to the poor.

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time



Images

Good and bad co-existing together


Points to note

This reading is the second in a series of three parables that Jesus told.  For the children’s readings, only the shorter versions in the Missal are used.  The longer alternative versions contain Jesus’ explanation to the parables. 

The message of this parable is abstract and revolves around concepts of justice that younger children may find it difficult to grasp.  As such, it is recommended that the idea that good and bad co-exist in this world is broached with younger children, moving up when the children are ready, to concepts about the rewards that good and bad will have at the end of time.  Care should be taken that justice should not be equated to vengeance in this context but aim to highlight the good rather than the bad.


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.
Alleluia!



Gospel
As this parable follows on directly from that last week, you may wish to revisit the parable of the sower briefly before starting this reading.

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 13:24-43)
Jesus put a parable before the crowds, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off.  When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well.  The owner’s servants went to him and said, ‘Sir, was it not good seed you sowed in your field?  If so, where does the darnel come from?’  ‘Some enemy has done this’, he answered.  And the servants said, ‘Do you want to weed it out?’  But he said, ‘No, when you weed out the darnel, you might pull out the wheat with it.  Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers:  First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.’”

This is the Word of the Lord


Dialogue

Does everyone know the story of Dick Whittington and his cat (you may choose to use another children story where there was a person in trouble, a person who caused it and a person who helped)You may need to retell this story as I have found many children and grown-ups who do not know the story.  Highlight in the story that Dick was troubled because of the nasty cook in the house but the master of the house was such a good man.

Have you ever been troubled?  Discuss the times that children have been troubled in their everyday lives.  Do not force the discussion and do not lead children to create a troubled scenario for the discussion.  Gently highlight the ones where some one else was the cause of the troubles.  Take care again that we do not paint this other person as the villainous one.  Ask questions to take the story a little further.  Was there some one else who came to help the child in his or her time of trouble?  Spend more time on this aspect of the story and make sure the time spent on the good person who helped is more than that spent on the bad person who caused the trouble in the first place.  In all the discussion, you may use the story of Dick Whittington and his cat, or any other story of your choosing for the context.

Link this up with the parable.  Each person/object in the story has an analogy: The owner is God and the field is the world.  The servants are his missionaries and the wheat is the good people.  The enemy is Satan and the darnel is the bad people.  Harvest time is judgement day with the barn being paradise and the fire is you-know-where.

The message is that in every story with a bad person, there is a good person in there as well.  You may wish to play down the part about what happens to the bad people.  That will lead on to a lot of questions that cannot be finished this Sunday.  (Basically, the bad will be with us together with the good, all the way until judgement day – harvest time in the parable - then, judgement will separate the good from the bad)


Dick Whittington was a little boy whose only possession was a cat and he went away to London to look for work.  He found a job as kitchen help.  Although the master of the house was a kindly soul, the cook was nasty to him and used to beat him up.  The cat was his only friend.  So, Dick ran away with his cat.  He stopped on a hill outside London where he heard the church bells of London tolling to him, “Come back, Dick Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London.”  Dick went back to the house.  One day, the master of the house whose ship was about to sail asked everyone in the house if they had anything to sell in the faraway land.  Dick gave his cat, which became a treasure when it helped to clear out all the mice in the palace of a king in a faraway land.  Dick became rich, married the daughter of the master of the house, and became the Lord Mayor of London three times.

Interesting little-known fact – if you go to London, near a train station called Archway, there is a small statue of a cat by the side of the road.  It marks the spot where Dick heard the bells of London and turned round.  London public archives do record a Richard Whittington, who was, unusually, Lord Mayor three times.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Images

Hearing and listening


Points to note

This reading starts a series of three parables that Jesus told.  For the children’s readings, only the shorter versions in the Missal are used.  The longer alternative versions contain Jesus’ explanation to the parables. 

There are many possible points that may be brought up in this particular passage.  The point on hearing and listening is only the most vivid message of this passage.  The focus is more on the proof of listening, which is seen in the work that we do after we have heard the message.

In some ways, this reading is related to the story of Mary and Martha where Mary chose to listen to Jesus.  You may wish to return to that reading in Luke 10:38-42 (16 Sunday, year C).


Liturgy

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



Gospel
Explain that Jesus is explaining the mission of the Apostles and, in this passage, is describing the reactions that people will have to their preaching.

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 13:1-23)
Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such crowds gathered round him that he got into a bout and sat there.  The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.

He said, “Imagine a sower going out to sow.  As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away.  Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  Listen, anyone who has ears!”

This is the Word of the Lord


Dialogue

Is there a difference between sounds and noises?  Noises are sounds that we do not like.  Think about it.  Get the children to give lists of sounds and lists of noises: you will see what I mean.

The same sound can be a noise to the different people or even the same person at different times.  Basically, if you choose to ignore it, it is noise.  If you respond to it, it is a sound: When Mom calls you down for dinner, is that a sound?  If Mom calls you to clean your room, is that a noise?

Is there a difference between hearing and listening?  Discuss this, especially in context of what the teacher and the parents say.  Also, people who live near the airport do not hear the planes.  Or is it that they were not listening.  Same with those who live near a mosque: they do not hear the call to prayer.  Interestingly though, Muslims who live near a mosque will hear the call to prayer.

How we can tell if somebody is not listening to us.  Basically, it has no effect on them.  They don’t do what we tell them to do, for example.

Discuss the Bible as readings.  Bible readings contain messages that God wants us to hear; and not just hear, but to do something about it as well.  Just like the Muslims who hear the call to prayer but not the non-Muslims, some of us are listening to God’s word and some do not, even if we all heard it.  What do we do to show that we are listening?

Will it be much use if we were to learn so much about God and not do anything about it?

Link this up with the Gospel passage.  You may need to refer to the longer alternative version.  Discuss who will be which seed and what you need to do to avoid being the seed that do not grow.  It is more than just listening: you have to show that you are listening by the things you do.


If you hear the Word of God, did you even hear what was said?  If you did hear, were you listening?  If you listened and understood, did you choose to ignore it?  If you chose instead to let it take root in you, then you are the fruitful crop that Jesus mentioned in the parable.