Fourteenth Ordinary Sunday
Points to note
This reading tries to bring across the idea that, as Christians, we have a duty to stand up for what is right. That is our calling to be prophets. Highlight the point that all of us are called to be prophets and therefore we are all called to this responsibility.
Acclamation before the Gospel
The Word was made flesh and lived among us;
to all who accept him
he gave power to become children of God.
Explain that Jesus has just started teaching in the area around his home region.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk 6: 1-6)
Jesus went to his hometown and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, “Where did the man get all these? What is the wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that has been worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?” And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is only despised in his own country among his own relations and in his own house”; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
What is a prophet? Can you give examples of prophets of the old days? In the Old Testament, there are four major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. They are so called because their books in the Old Testament are the longest. There are also twelve minor prophets, because their books are shorter: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. In addition, there are prophets who did not write any of the Old Testament books such as Samuel, Elijah, Eli, Nathan and so on. People like Moses and Abraham are not prophets: they are called patriarchs.
Discuss the fact that Jesus was anointed priest, prophet and king. Similarly, at our baptism, we are all called to be priests, prophets and kings (or queens?). For us Christians, we see our role as priests to be that of praying, prophets to be that of proclaiming and kings to be that of servants.
What does a prophet do? Discuss what we expect a prophet to be. A prophet is not someone who predicts the future: that is a fortune teller. A prophet calls people to be true to God’s teachings. In many ways, a prophet is a teacher. Discuss people who we could consider prophets in this sense: Sunday school teachers, priests, your friendly CLOW facilitators, etc.
A prophet also has to proclaim God’s law and point out where people have not followed God’s commandments. Examples of people who are prophets in this sense are those who speak up for the poor, those involved in social justice, etc.
What qualities do you think a prophet should have? Courage, a strong faith, a clear voice. A prophet should also be one who can withstand rejection because many people would not want to listen to them. Discuss the types of people who would have been rejected for their message.
For older children
Discuss with the children the times when they have made themselves unpopular when they have pointed out something that is right and should be done. At times, they have incurred someone’s anger when they refused to take part in an unkind act, a dishonest act or a disobedient act. Discuss how it hurts and ask them to share their experience.
In the reading, Jesus was referred to as the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon. Catholic teaching on this point is that brother here is used in the same sense as cousin, which is the meaning still commonly encountered in Middle Eastern languages. There is an interesting minority view that Jesus has half brothers, sons of Joseph from a previous marriage. This retains the belief that Mary herself has no other children.