Thirty-first Ordinary Sunday
Points to note
The teacher is a very central role model to children. For the younger children, we could concentrate on the importance of the teacher to the children and how Jesus is the most important of our teachers.
For older children, we could go into the core of the passage: how do we react if the teacher fails us as role models. For us as adults, the failure of a particular role model can be an excruciating experience. If this is to be discussed with the children, it will have to be handled very sensitively.
If you wish to explain some of the words used in the passage, please refer to the adult’s leaflet.
Acclamation before the Gospel
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:
you have the message of eternal life.
Explain that after the attempts that we have seen in the past two weeks by the Pharisees and the Saducees to trap Jesus, it is now Jesus’ turn to denounce the Pharisees.
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 23: 1-12)
Jesus said to the people and his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit at the priestly seat in the synagogues. You must do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not follow by what they do: since they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader prayer boxes and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.
“You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one Master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Who is your favourite teacher in school? What’s he/she like? Get the children to talk about why they like that particular teacher. Bring the discussion round to the point of respect for the teacher.
For younger children
Is it important to have teachers? Why? Discuss the wider implication of having teachers. It is not just a matter of having someone to teach us. Teachers also often set good examples for us. What are the qualities that you respect most in your teachers?
Can teachers only be found in schools? Where else do we find teachers? What do we call people who teach in the Church? Catechists. Note that anyone who teaches us is a teacher. Even people younger than us can be our teachers. At LSW, the children can sometimes be the teachers to the facilitators. That is why we don’t call ourselves teachers.
For older children
Have you ever have a person you respect a lot and one day find out that he/she is not the type of person you thought he was. Don’t push the question too far. Most children have not had a failure in role models. If so, limit the discussion to friends who turn out to be different from what you thought they were. How did you react when you found out? Take them through how they felt. Remember, there is no right or wrong way of feeling. Ensure that that is respected.
Bring the discussion round eventually to what Jesus said in the Gospel. If an advice that was given by a person was a good advice, does it become a bad advice if the person eventually turn out to be a rogue? Jesus said Do what they say but not what they do. Isn’t that a good advice?