Sunday, August 5, 2018

Nineteenth Ordinary Sunday

Year B
Nineteenth Ordinary Sunday


Images

 

Welcoming Jesus to our mass


Points to note

 

This week’s reading is the third of a series of readings centred around the account of the feeding of the five thousand in Jn in Sunday 17.  For the five weeks, the readings will be laden with theological themes of: the feeding (Sunday 17); true bread (Sunday 18); the person of Jesus (Sunday 19); Jesus as bread (Sunday 20); and accepting Jesus (Sunday 21).

While it makes sense to present them in such a cycle to adults, it is very difficult for children. I have therefore interpreted it as: preparing the meal (Sunday 17); what we eat (Sunday 18); who we eat with (Sunday 19); the wider church who shares the bread (Sunday 20); and what to do after the meal (Sunday 21).

In all instances, it is important to emphasise the personal and the everyday occurrences that children encounter at meals and parallel them with the meal for their spiritual world.


Liturgy


Acclamation

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
Remind the children that Jesus has just fed the five thousand men, with the women and children.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
(Jn6: 41-51)
The Jews were complaining to each other about Jesus, because he had said, “I am the bread that comes down from heaven.”  “Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph,” they said.  “We know his father and mother, how can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”  Jesus said in reply, “Stop complaining to each other.

No one can come to me 
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me, 
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God, 
and to hear the teaching of the Father, 
and learn from it, is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father, 
except the one who comes from God: he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly, 
everybody who believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert and they are dead; but this bread that comes down from heaven, 
so that a man may eat it and not die.  
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.  Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; 
and the bread that I shall give 
is my flesh, for the life of the world.

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion


Just as the family at home have meals together, the family of God also have a meal together.  The mass.  Draw parallels between the family at home and the family of God. There is a dining table (the altar table) with a table-cloth over it (the altar cloth).  There is food on the table (the bread and wine) and lots of diners (the congregation).  

Discuss when Mom or Dad has an important guest for dinner.  Dad’s boss at work, the parish priest, or even more important, your schoolteacher.  Would the table be set even more special?  Discuss how. The guest will have the most important seat that the table and will have the first serving of the food. Everything will be done to get the guest as comfortable as possible.  And if this is the first visit, the guest may even get a tour of the house.  We will all also have to be on our best behaviour and will not be allowed to say any nasty remarks about our guest.

Parallel this with the mass. Who are the people at our mass? There are Catholics as well those who are interested in our church.  There are the priests.  Discuss when we have a special guest at our church:  say, the bishop or a visiting priest.  Won’t we make an extra effort to make sure that he is welcomed and he knows where everything is for him to say mass?  Also, in some churches, we ask people who are attending our church for the first time to stand up so that we can welcome them.

What about Jesus?  Is he a guest at our mass too?  This is an interesting question: is a member of the family also a guest?  Discuss how Jesus is present at our mass:  (i) in the Eucharist in the form of bread and wine; (ii) in the reading, since Jesus is also the Word of God; and (iii) in the gathering of the people, because Jesus said, where two or three are gathered in my name, there I will be.

Discuss how we make Jesus welcome in the mass: (i) we kneel when the bread is broken and prepared for us as our way of treating the Eucharist with respect; (ii) we stand when the Gospel is read, because we recognise that these are the words of Jesus; and (iii) we greet the people around us in the sign of peace, and in doing so, we also greet Jesus.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


LSW

children
Year B
Eighteenth Ordinary Sunday


Images

 

Bread and wine at mass


Points to note

 

This week’s reading is the second of a series of readings centred around the account of the feeding of the five thousand in Jn in Sunday 17.  For the five weeks, the readings will be laden with theological themes of: the feeding (Sunday 17); true bread (Sunday 18); the person of Jesus (Sunday 19); Jesus as bread (Sunday 20); and accepting Jesus (Sunday 21).

While it makes sense to present them in such a cycle to adults, it is very difficult for children. I have therefore interpreted it as: preparing the meal (Sunday 17); what we eat (Sunday 18); who we eat with (Sunday 19); the wider church who shares the bread (Sunday 20); and what to do after the meal (Sunday 21).

In all instances, it is important to emphasise the personal and the everyday occurrences that children encounter at meals and parallel them with the meal for their spiritual world.


Liturgy


Acclamation

Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Man does not live on bread alone, 
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Alleluia!

Gospel
Remind the children that Jesus has just fed the five thousand men, with the women and children.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
(Jn6: 24-35)
When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus.  When they found him on the other side, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”  Jesus answered:

“I tell you most solemnly, 
you are not looking for me because you have seen miracles but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last, 
but work for food that last forever, 
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you, 
for on him the Father, God himself has set his approval.”

Then they said to him, “What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?”  Jesus gave them this answer, “This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.”  So they said,  ”What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you?  What work will you do?  Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scriptures says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus answered: “I tell you must solemnly, 
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven, 
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven, 
the true bread; 
for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“Sir,” they said, “give us that bread always.”  Jesus answered:

“I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry; 
he who believes in me will never thirst.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion


Just as the family at home have meals together, the family of God also have a meal together. The mass.  Draw parallels between the family at home and the family of God.  There is a dining table (the altar table) with a table-cloth over it (the altar cloth). There is food on the table (the bread and wine) and lots of diners (the congregation).  Discuss why the bread at mass looks the way it does.  There is no yeast in it.  This is because when the Jews left Egypt, they left in a hurry and had no time to wait for the dough to rise.  Our mass is a successor to the Jewish Passover meal, which celebrated the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt

Discuss what bread represents to most people.  It is important especially in places where bread is eaten everyday.  Discuss where there are places with famine, etc.  How important do the people there think bread is?

Discuss what is meant by eating the flesh of Jesus. Remember it is not just that our body is eating the physical flesh of Jesus, but rather our spirit eating the spiritual flesh of Jesus.  Explain that by eating him spiritually, we bring the spirit of Jesus into us. Wouldn’t we all like that?

If asked, explain that the wine that is used must be alcoholic, but there are set rules as to how alcoholic.  There is a maximum level for obvious reasons.  There is also a set minimum so that the wine will keep. Also, the wine must be a fruit of the grape.  So, no cider. The rules do not say that the wine must be red to symbolise blood.  I have taken white wine at mass before.

Discuss what the wine means to people.  In countries where wine is drunk a lot, it is normally drunk at dinner time.  It is the kind of dinner where people are relaxed and the meal could take quite a long time because people chat a lot over the meal.  So, wine represents fellowship to these people.

Discuss what is meant when we say we drink the blood of Jesus. Jews and Muslims do not eat meat with blood in it.  Halal & kosher therefore doesn’t just mean no pork, but also that the animal is slaughtered in such a way that all the blood is drained out.  This is because they believe that blood contains life and life can only belong to God.  Going by that therefore, we can say that the blood of Jesus is his life. When we drink the wine, we are drinking the life of Jesus into us.

Therefore, at the end of mass, we are all filled with the spirit and the life of Jesus after partaking of the bread and wine at mass.  With the spirit and life of Jesus in us we can go out and be better Christians. That is the meaning of spiritual sustenance given to us at mass.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year B
Seventeenth Ordinary Sunday


Images

Helping at mass


Points to note

This week’s reading starts off a series of readings centred around the account of the feeding of the five thousand in Jn.  For the next five weeks, the readings will be laden with theological themes of: the feeding (Sunday 17); true bread (Sunday 18); the person of Jesus (Sunday 19); Jesus as bread (Sunday 20); and accepting Jesus (Sunday 21).

While it makes sense to present them in such a cycle to adults, it is very difficult for children. I have therefore interpreted it as: preparing the meal (Sunday 17); what we eat (Sunday 18); who we eat with (Sunday 19); the wider church who shares the bread (Sunday 20); and what to do after the meal (Sunday 21).

In all instances, it is important to emphasise the personal and the everyday occurrences that children encounter at meals and parallel them with the meal for their spiritual world.

 


Liturgy


Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Your words are spirit, Lord,
and they are life;
you have the message of eternal life.

Gospel

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
(Jn6: 1-15)
Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick.  Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples, it was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.

Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, “Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?”  He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew what he was going to do.  Philip answered, “Two thousand ringgit would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.”  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?”  Jesus said to them, “Make the people sit down.”  There were plenty of grass there and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted.  When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, “Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.”  So they picked them up, and filled twelve baskets with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves.  The people, seeing the signs that he had given, said, “This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.”  Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back into the hills by himself.

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion

Has anyone helped prepare a meal before?  Get everyone into the preparation of a meal, even if they have never helped in one. What would they have expected if someone else had prepared a meal:  table set, food cooked, plates cleaned, etc.  Do a list of what needs to be done to prepare if necessary.

Who helps with preparing the meal?  Do you? Talk about situations where the meal is to celebrate someone’s birthday or to welcome someone from far away. Are they more likely to help?  Are they more likely to help if it is a birthday for someone they like?

Doesn’t the family of God also have a meal together?  Yes, the mass.  Draw parallels between the family at home and the family of God.  There is a dining table (the altar table) with a table-cloth over it (the altar cloth).  There is food on the table (the bread and wine) and lots of diners (the congregation). There are also people who have helped in preparing the mass just like people who helped prepare the meal at home.

Discuss the people who help prepare the mass:
·           The cleaning lady cleans up the church.
·           Somebody gets the priest’s vestments cleaned. 
·           There are altar ladies who arrange flowers at the altar.
·           The priest prepares the sermon and the prayers.
·           The choir selects the songs and practises them.
·           Readers practise the readings.
·           The commentators go through their sheets.
·           Eucharistic ministers prepare to handle the holy hosts.
·           The sacristan ensures enough bread and wine.
·           Somebody makes sure that the sound system works.
·           Altar boys put out the sacred vessels and the candles.
·           The girls who project get their slides ready.
·           Ushers help people to their places.
·           And there is a co-ordinator who makes sure that all the above happens.

What about us?  How do we prepare for mass?  We make sure we have been good and have made peace with the people around us before we approach God’s altar; we say our prayers before mass; we read the readings before mass to familiarise ourselves with the mass before it starts.

Most importantly, we make sure that we come to the meal clean and as this is a spiritual meal, we have to be spiritually clean.  Discuss how we do that.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

LSW


children

Year B

Sixteenth Ordinary Sunday



Images


Resting
Protection


Points to note


This reading is specifically the introduction to the miracle of the loaves from Mk.  This miracle is important in the Catholic Church as it forms the base to our sacrament to the Eucharist.  The Missal, therefore, takes time out in the Ordinary Sunday cycle of readings to deal with this a little more in depth.  As the doctrinal explanation of this miracle in Mk, however, is rather skimpy, the readings from Jn are used from next week onwards to explain the significance of this miracle.

I have, consequently, decided to decouple this introduction from the miracle of the loaves. It can, fortunately, stand by itself in that the concern that Jesus has for his sheep is highlighted, and thus, continue the theme of protection and Jesus’ help that runs through the last two Sundays.


Liturgy


Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice, says the Lord, I know them and they follow me.
Alleluia!

Gospel

In last week’s reading, Jesus just sent out the disciples to preach in the towns around Galilee.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk6: 30-34)
The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught.  Then he said to them, “You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while”; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat.  So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves.  But the people saw them going and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place and reached it before them.  So, as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion


What does a shepherd do?  Discuss specifically what a shepherd does for the sheep.  Let them graze and rest; make them comfortable, including taking them into shelter at night; protect them.

What qualities should a shepherd have?  Being sensitive to the needs of the sheep; courage when needed to protect the sheep. 

Discuss how Jesus was sensitive to the apostles in the reading.  What did he think they needed?  Rest, a little food, some place to be alone.  Did he provide them with it?  Discuss stories in the Bible where God was sensitive to the needs of his people and provided for them:  feeding with manna, etc.

Discuss how Jesus was sensitive to the people in the reading.  What did he think they needed?  A little bit of direction, a bit of leadership, a bit of comfort, a lot of teaching.  Did he provide them with it?  Discuss times when God promised to care for us.  (Is 49:15-16 I have carved you on the palms of my hands; Ps 23 the Lord is my Shepherd)

Discuss how we can be like Jesus by being sensitive to others, care for others and see to it that they are comfortable.  Give concrete examples.  Start with the family and go on to school situations.  For older children, discuss where people stand up and argue for the poor and the underprivileged.

Lead on to discuss how the shepherd leads the sheep to food.  What happens during winter when it is too cold for the sheep to graze outside?The shepherd prepares hay for them. What happens when there is a famine and there is not much grass on the ground?  The shepherd leads the sheep further away to find better grazing ground.

You can then discuss how just as the shepherd leads the flock to sustenance, Jesus also leads us to sustenance at mass.  This anticipates next week reading so you can leave more of it to the next few weeks.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Year B

Fifteenth Ordinary Sunday



Images

Out on a journey with Jesus


Points to note

This Sunday’s reading deal with the aspect of missionary work.  The perception of missionaries is typified by the story of the old Jesuit who never had his belongings in more than one suitcase, in order to be ready for any call to go anywhere anytime.  As such, a missionary travels light and his direction is that given by the Spirit.

We should be drawing parallels between this and travelling done by us.  For younger children, lead this to the awareness that Jesus and his disciples too have been travelling a lot themselves.  Older children should be led to discuss a metaphorical travelling with Jesus: we never travel on our faith journey alone; Jesus is always with us.


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
Remind the children that Jesus was rejected by the people in his hometown in last Sunday’s reading.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk 6: 7-13)
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits.  And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses.  They were to wear sandals but, he added, “Do not take a spare tunic.”  And he said to them, “If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district.  And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.”  So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.


Discussions

Has anyone gone out traveling before?  Which ways of traveling do you prefer: plane, ships, car, bus, trains, etc.  Get the children to discuss from their own experiences. 

Discuss how people of Jesus’ days traveled.  Would the children be comfortable with that way of traveling?  If they were to travel like that, would they be able to carry a lot of things?  That may be why in the reading, Jesus told his disciples not to carry too many things with them when they travel.

Many of the disciples traveled a lot to bring the Gospel to many people.  Who are they?  Paul made four journeys throughout the Mediterranean while Peter went to Rome, Thomas to India, Andrew to Greece, Matthew to Ethiopia, James to Spain, Jude and Simon to Persia, Philip in Turkey and Bartholomew to Armenia.  Discuss why they went to these faraway places.

The disciples often had very difficult times when they traveled.  Most of them were persecuted, faced arrest, ridiculed and insulted. Some were even killed for the faith they tried to preach.  Yet even when they were thrown into prison, they were not alone.  Explain how Jesus said that he would be with them always.

Go on to the story of the footprints in the sand:  a man dreamt one night that Jesus showed him how they have walked together during his life story along a sandy beach. The man found that during most of his life, there were two sets of footprints on the sand, but on the more difficult times, there was only one set.  He turned and asked Jesus why he had to walk alone during those difficult times and Jesus answered, “During those most difficult times, you see only one set of footprints because I carried you.”

For older children
Discuss the idea of spiritually traveling light.  We should not have too many temptations with us on our spiritual journey.  Discuss the temptations that Jesus would not like us to carry with us when we travel with him.  Use examples from the children’s everyday lives.  Would a priest be a good priest if he was more concerned about playing computer games?  Can we be good Christians if we are more concerned about our possessions not to share them with others?