Sunday, June 10, 2018

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

LSW

children


Year B
Eleventh Ordinary Sunday


Images


Sower sowing, not knowing when the seed will sprout
Mustard seed


Points to note

 

The passage this Sunday revolves around two images: (i) that of the sower sowing the seed and (ii) the mustard seed.  You may choose to use both or concentrate on only one.


Liturgy


Acclamation

Alleluia!  Alleluia!
The seed is the word of God, Christ the sower;
whoever finds the seed will remain for ever.
Alleluia!

 

 

Gospel

Explain that Jesus is telling a parable in this reading.  Explain what a parable is and that some parables area allegories – where each action or person in the story could be representing something in real life. Get the children to try to identify what is what or who is whom in the reading.


A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk4: 26-34)
Jesus said to the crowds: “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know.  Of its own accord, the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, the full grain in the ear.  And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.”

He also said: “What can we say the kingdom of God is like?  What parable can we find for it?  It is like a mustard seed which at the time if its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds in the earth; yet once it is sown, it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.”

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it.  He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion


The sower
Discuss with the children how wheat is grown and harvested.  Point out the stages of the growth of the wheat: (i) the planting; (ii) the shoot; (iii) the budding of the ear; (iv) the maturity of the ear; (v) ready for harvesting. 

Point out also the time of waiting the sower has to wait for the wheat to be harvested.  He will never know for sure when the harvest will come because it may change with the weather.  Also the fact that all the seed the sower sows are good seed.  No sower will ever sow bad seed.

Liken the parable to God.  Get the children to identify what represents what in the parable.  There are alternatives:  
(i)             God is the sower and we are the seed.  God never sow bad seeds:  God made only good people;  Are we the good people that God sowed?
(ii)           We are the sower and goodness and love in the world is the wheat we would like to get. Discuss what is it the children would like to reap as a harvest?  How willing are they to put in the effort to make sure that their efforts will bear fruit?

Mustard seed
You may wish to use mustard seeds for this session.  The mustard seed could be shown to the children in the course of the discussion but not given out.  Otherwise, you will have mustard seeds all over the place.  If you wish to say a prayer, though, each child could be given one seed to hold while the final prayer is being said.

You may discuss about what such a little mustard seed could be thinking about when it is growing up?  How big will I grow?  Being so small, can I be as big as the other trees?  Link it back to the children.  No matter how small we are today, and how little our knowledge, we can grow to be someone big and knowledgeable enough to serve God well.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year B
Tenth Ordinary Sunday


Images


Family showing concerns


Points to note

 

The passage this Sunday is formed like a sandwich with the opening and final paragraphs referring to Jesus’ family while the ‘meat’ part are the paragraphs about the exchange between Jesus and the scribes. It is pretty difficult to discuss this and you may wish to drop this middle part and focus on the two end passages.

Neither are the other two passages are easy.  Even though it deals with the theme of the family, it challenges the conventional relationship with family members if you are not too careful.  So it may be safer to discuss the concerns that family members have for each other. 

You may need to have answers ready for questions from older children in the final passage as they are bound to feel puzzled if they had listened well to the reading.


Liturgy


Acclamation

Alleluia!  Alleluia!
If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him, 
and we shall come to him.
Alleluia!

 

 

Gospel

Explain that Jesus is going around Galilee peaching and healing people but there were people who didn’t like what he was teaching.


A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk3: 20-35)
Jesus went home with his disciples, and such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.

The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.

‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’

His mother and brothers now arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion


Get the children to imagine the scene for the first reading: a busy place, lots of people, Jesus’ home is crowded with people that they can’t even have dinner.  

Imagine if that happened in your house that your brother/sister had so many friends over in the house that the family can’t even have dinner.  What would mom and dad do? Explore all the possibilities: no one can watch TV, eat, talk, etc.  Discuss whether people in the house would be happy with the situation.

What would they then do?  Discuss how they would probably had tried to chase everyone out and then tried to make sure it doesn’t happen again by taking him to the doctor.  

Explain that in this story, Jesus’ family also was concerned about Jesus’ wellbeing.  They mistakenly thought that what Jesus was doing was not right.  Emphasise that in the end they realised their error and were his greatest supporters.

You may want to point out that Jesus’ family thought he was out of his mind and take the opportunity to explain that not all illnesses are physical with a visible symptom like a cold or fever.  Some illnesses are not so visible like mental illness.  Manage the reaction as mental illness in most parts of the world still carries a stigma.  Explain that most mental illnesses are caused by an emotional trauma and that most such illnesses can be treated with a lot of love and support from their families.  Jesus’ family showed that love by hoping to bring him to a doctor promptly.

For older children
Explain that Jesus’s statement about his family in the final paragraph was not a repudiation of his family but was instead a widening of his family.  Imagine the family of the parish priest: his family is not just his mom & dad and his siblings & cousins but also the people he has to care for in the parish. But within that family he has a smaller circle of people who are helping him minister to the souls in the parish. In a way, they form the closer family circle who shares in his ministry much like how Jesus described those who do the work of God as his family.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Corpus Christi

LSW

children


Year B

Corpus Christi



Images

The four actions of the mass


Points to note

On the same feast day in Year A, we touched on the concept of the Body of Christ. This year we discuss what happens at mass.  The mass is laden with symbolisms that often escape us.  As Catholics, we often grow up not knowing what happens at mass. Perhaps, today, we share with the children about the little bit of the mass that they attend.  This is best done by preparing them to be alert at mass for some of the details that we share with them.  I will leave it up to you how you wish to explain.


Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven, 
says the Lord.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.
Alleluia!

Gospel

Explain that this story happened at the night before Jesus was to be killed.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk14: 12-16, 22-26)
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover Lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to Jesus, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”  So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water.  Follow him and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is the dining room in which I can eat the Passover with my disciples?”  He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared.  Make the preparations for us there.”  The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover.

And as they were eating, he took some bread, and when he has said the blessing, he broke it and gave it to them.  “Take it,” he said, “this is my body.”  Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many.  I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord.


Discussions

The mass has two parts.  We celebrate the first part of the mass, the Celebration (the proper word here would, of course, be Liturgy) of the Word, away from the rest of the church and we rejoin them for the Celebration of the Eucharist.  The word Eucharist here could refer to the bread to be eaten or it could refer to the mass itself.  The word comes from an ancient Greek word which means thanksgiving.

When we join in the Church for the mass, it is at the point of the presentation of gifts.  You may wish to use the accompanying guide for material on the mass to explain to the children.

Children need something more visual than doctrines and historical context, interesting though they may be.  I would suggest hanging your session on the

·           presentation of gifts: get them to imagine what it was like in the old days when people brought the produce of their farms for mass.  If you have time, discuss what kind of gifts would Jesus like us to bring to the altar.  Emphasise on spiritual gifts.

·           washing of hands:  we wash our hands before a meal.  The Eucharist is a meal, a spiritual meal. What kind of washing should we have before this spiritual meal?

·           four liturgical actions (v 22)

i.         take: Jesus took some bread and(the priest takes the bread at the presentation of gifts)
ii.        bless: when he has said the blessing,(the priest blesses the bread at the Eucharistic Prayer)
iii.       broke: he broke it and (the priest breaks the bread after the Lamb of God)
iv.       gave: gave it to them (the priest gives out communion to the ministers of the Eucharist)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Trinity Sunday

LSW

children


Year B

Trinity Sunday



Images

Baptising in the name of the Holy Trinity


Points to note

Easter season has just finished and we are not back into the ordinary season of the liturgical year.  The readings will remain with the Gospel according to St Mark, with a few exceptions like in this week, until the end of the liturgical year.

If you do wish to go into the intricacies of the Trinity, this will be in the leaflet for Year A.

In this reading, the injunction from Jesus calls on the Apostles, the first bishops to baptise in the name of the Trinity.  Names are very important to the ancients.  That is why important people in the Bible had their names changed by God at critical times of their lives:  Abraham; Jacob; Peter.  The Bible also emphasises naming of persons and often gives the meaning of the names.  

In the ancient world, the authority to give or to change someone’s name confers a certain power and ownership of the namer (is this the right word?) over the named.  Therefore, to be baptised in the name of the Trinity would seal the Trinity’s ownership over us.

This would also be an opportunity to share everyone’s names in the group.  You may want to have a book of names to give meaning to names.


Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit the God who is, who was, and who is to come.
Alleluia!

Gospel
Explain that this story took place after Jesus rose from the dead and just before he ascended into heaven.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
(Mt28: 16-20)
The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them.  When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated.  Jesus came up and spoke to them.  He said, “All authority has in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.  And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.


Discussions

Does anyone remember their baptism?  Some of the children may have been baptism as children and not babies while some others may have witnessed a baptism.  Get them to talk about the more salient happenings during the baptism.

There is one point in the celebration where the baby is brought up to the priest for the baptism itself.  Before the baptism, the priest asks the parents for the name of the baby.  This will be a good opportunity to go through the room and ask every child what his or her parents said.  Do it slowly with respect and holiness when they say their names as the ritual of naming can be a solemn affair.

Point out that when their parents called out their names, it was the first time that the Christian community heard their name and the Christian community accepted that name by welcoming the baby into the Church through baptism.

Explain that the choice of names and their meanings are very important.  That is why in the ancient world, people chose the names of their children because of the meaning and not just because they sounded nice.  No one would have wanted their parents to name them Porky for instance!!  If you have a book of names, you may wish to go search out the meaning of names of each child.

Explain also that sometimes, people are named after someone famous, someone the parents like or respect a lot.  It could be a film star, a world leader, or a family member.  Ask if any of the children know if they have been named after someone.  

When parents named a child after someone, they hope that the child will take on the qualities of that person.  Guess what the parents would want their daughter to grow up to be if they have named her Britney?  Catholics like to name their children after saints in hope that they will grow up to be like the saint.

When we are baptised, we are all baptised with two names:  the name that our parents gave us and the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  We are all baptised using the name of Christ.  After our baptism, people call us Christians and expect us to be like the person that we were named after:  Jesus.  So, being named and being baptised in the Catholic Church is a responsibility. Discuss how we should respond to this responsibility.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Pentecost

Year A, B, C
Pentecost Sunday


Image

Birthday of the Church


Points to note

For this Sunday, the Gospel is not used and the more vivid story of the descent of the Holy Spirit from the Acts of the Apostles is used instead.

The emphasis is on a beginning of the Church.  It is from the day of Pentecost that the mission of the Church began.  Armed with the Holy Spirit, the Church now had the courage to take Christ’s message to the world.  It is important to convey this to the children.

As such, this feastday is sometimes known as the birthday of the Church.  This may be something that can be played up as birthday is something that children identify with.  Discussions, I feel, should go beyond birthdays.

Stories of missionaries may be used.  Perhaps, the stories of the apostles as used in Easter 2 could kick off the story telling.


Liturgy

Reading

As the Gospel is not read, the Acclamation is omitted. Being the birthday of the Church, we could welcome the reading with a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to the Church instead (make sure you get approval from your parish priest before hand).

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

A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles
(Ac2: 1-11)
When Pentecost day came round, the apostles had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language.  They were amazed and astonished.  “Surely”, they said, “all these men speaking are Galileans?  How is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Iranians and Syrians; people from Iraq, Israel, Jordan and Turkey, Egypt and Libya; as well as visitors from Rome - Jews and converts alike - Greeks and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.

This is the Word of the Lord


Discussion

Has anybody just celebrated a birthday?  Or been to a birthday party?  Discuss what is a birthday, and that it happens once a year and it celebrates an event that took place once before on the same day. Explain that that first birthday is a beginning of a life.

Do you know that the Church has a birthday?  Do you know which day?  Discuss that the Church also has a beginning. Discuss the story of Pentecost. Emphasise the fear the apostles had after the resurrection and contrast it with the courage they had after Pentecost. Explain that after Pentecost, the apostles went out to preach the Gospel to all people all over the world.  You may wish to revisit some of the stories of where the apostles went.  The following stories are not biblical:

The apostles drew lots to see where they would go.  Peter went to Rome and became the first bishop of Rome. Once, when he was running away to escape from soldiers, he saw Jesus walking the other direction.  When he asked Jesus where he was going, Jesus replied that he was going to Rome to be crucified again.  Peter was so ashamed of himself that he ran ahead of Jesus and was arrested.  He told the soldiers that he should be crucified upside-down as he was not worthy to be crucified upright like Jesus.

Thomas was chosen to go to India.  He didn’t want to because it was so far away.  Jesus visited him in a dream, but still he told Jesus, “Anywhere Lord but India”.  The next morning, Jesus was at the harbour and asked the captain of a ship if he needed a slave, pointing out to him Thomas.  The captain called Thomas over and asked him if Jesus was his master. When Thomas said yes, the captain said he had bought him and Thomas was going to India.  Thomas went and made many Christians there.

Of all the apostles, only John lived to an old age but in exile in the island of Patmos.  Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Greece.  James was martyred in Spain and Matthew in Ethiopia.  Philip was crucified in Turkey.  Bartholomew was whipped to death in Armenia.  Simon and Jude were killed for the faith in Persia.

St Paul, according to the Acts of the Apostles, made four missionary journeys.  He probably made more, one of which was to Rome where he was martyred. 


You may also wish to discuss stories of the great missionary saints. It is recommended that this be limited to the saints known to the children.  A good example would be St Francis Xavier, who brought the message of Christ to Goa in India, Melaka in Malaysia, to Japan, where he baptised thousands, and to Macau in China, where he eventually died waiting to enter China proper.

In addition there are thousands of other people who may not be canonised saints, but are devout nevertheless and have brought the Gospel to all the places of the world.   These people are called missionaries.  Discuss those who the children may know personally.

St Francis Xavier is famous in Asia and is the patron saint of missionaries.  He was a Spaniard, who left his family, home, country, and all things familiar to him to a faraway place to tell people about Jesus.  Get the children to imagine having to do that and go to a place where they did not know anyone, know the language, the costumes, the customs, the food, to do something which people could kill you for.  St Francis went to India, then Malaysia, and then Japan.  Along the way, he made many people Christians.  He wanted to teach the Chinese people about Jesus but he died near Macau, before he could set foot into China.

St Francis Xavier and many other missionaries made many sacrifices so that people could become Christians.  It was because of their sacrifices that we are now Christians.

It will be wonderful if you could research how Christianity came to your town, region our country or how your people and ancestors came to be converted.  That would be your story to tell.  I feel it is important for everyone to be able to tell the story of their people and I hope Christianity is an important enough a defining feature of your people (like for the Irish) that it becomes part of your folklore how your people became Christians.  

Monday, April 16, 2018

Fourth Sunday of Easter


Year B
Fourth Sunday of Easter


Images

 

Sheep following a shepherd

Shepherd risking his life


Points to note


As mentioned in the leaflet for Easter 3, this is part of a four-week journey that John is leading us.  You may wish to read that leaflet to set this Sunday in context.

This is one of the most endearing images of Christ: Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  In many ways, there are two images of the Good Shepherd.  First, as a leader after whom his disciples will follow.  And his disciples include us.  His disciples will follow him because we know him.

You may also want to reflect on the accessory of a bishop.  The staff that a bishop carries is called a crozier.  It represents the staff of a shepherd.  The crook at the end of the staff enables the shepherd to hook the necks of straying lambs.

The other image is that of a shepherd risking his life for his sheep, fighting off wolves and the like.  Jesus, however, not just risked his life for us, he laid down his life for us.  For younger children, you may not wish to emphasise this image.




Liturgy


Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia, alleluia!
I am the Good Shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my own sheep and my own know me.
Alleluia!

Gospel

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

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
All:   Glory to you O Lord
(Jn 10:11-18)
Jesus said:
“I am the Good Shepherd:
the Good Shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.
The hired man, since he is not the shepherd
and the sheep do not belong to him,
abandons the sheep and run away as soon as he sees a wolf coming,
and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep;
this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the Good Shepherd;
I know my own and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for my sheep.
And there are other sheep that I have that are not of this fold,
and these I have to lead as well.
They too will listen to my voice,
and there will be only one flock and one shepherd.
The Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me;
I lay it down of my own free will,
and as it is in my power to lay it down,
so it is in my power to take it up again;
and this is the command I have been given by my Father.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion


Anyone has a dog?  Does your dog come when you call?  Explain that sheep flocks in the Middle East tend to be small and the many flocks need to search for scarce grazing land.  Grazing grounds generally overlap and flocks tend to mix freely.  Interestingly, though, when the shepherds leave at dusk, each has no problem in identifying his sheep and leading them home.  The sheep all knew their master and each will respond only when its master calls and not another, very much like how dogs recognise their masters.

Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd and that his sheep, i.e., we, know him and will follow him when he calls.  How do you think he will call us?  By our names.  Discuss those who God called by their names:  Abraham, Samuel, etc.  Discuss how Mary Magdalene did not recognise Jesus at the tomb until he called her by her name.  A good example of the sheep who knew the shepherd.  How would Jesus call you? This is a good opportunity for everybody in the group to share his or her name.  Make sure that each gives his name out loud to the group and not just to the facilitator. 

Have you seen how cows are branded?  With a red hot metal rod, which then imprints the owner’s name or sign on the side of the cow.  Cows are branded so that everyone knows to whom those cows belong.  Explain that cows are very big so they don't feel it much.

If we are Jesus’ sheep, do we also need to be branded like the cows?  Yes!! Like the cows, we are branded with Jesus’ name on us.  We are all called Christians.

Is there any way other people can know that we belong to Jesus?  Discuss that following is not just to physically to follow a person somewhere like the sheep following the shepherd.  A follower also follows what his or her master does.  When other people see that we are doing the same thing as our master, they know that we are followers of our master.  Discuss the things we should be doing so that people will know.

Link this up with last week’s reading:  Anyone who says ‘I know him (God)’, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar.  (1 Jn 2:4).