Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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).
Acclamation before the Gospel
Speak, Lord, you servant is listening;
you have the message of eternal life.
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 with your spirit.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All: Glory to you O Lord
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
Sounds. Is there any sound that you like? One of my favourites is “Dinner is ready!”.
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.