Year BTwenty-first Ordinary Sunday
Food and sustenance
This week’s reading is the last of a series of readings centred around the account of the feeding of the five thousand in Jn. 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.
Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life:
you have the message of eternal life.
Explain that Jesus has just told the Jews that he is the Bread of Life.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
(Jn 6: 60-69)
After hearing his doctrine many followers of Jesus said, “This is difficult to believe. How could anyone accept it?” Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, “Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before?
“It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer.
The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
“But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. He went on, “This is why I have told you that no one can come to me unless the Father allows him.” After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.
Then Jesus said to the Twelve, “What about you, do you want to go away too?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord
What do you do when you finish a meal? The children better be those who will be helping Mom and Dad to clear up the dishes and put out the garbage. If there are guests at the dinner, we entertain the guests. We definitely do not rush off and lock ourselves into our bedroom with the Playstation!!
Likewise, discuss what we do when we finish the mass. Some of us stay back to chat with our friends over coffee morning. Some of us go to Sunday School. Some help to put away the chairs. There are also others who attend other meetings and activities and choir practices, youth meetings, St Vincent de Paul meetings.
Get the children to come up with any other post-mass activities. Take time to explain what these groups and activities do. Not very nice is it if everyone rushes off home straight after mass? Get the children to imagine how such a church would look like and whether they would feel welcomed in such a church.
It is a bit like some of the people in the reading who could not accept the food that Jesus is to give and left, leaving Jesus all alone with his disciples.
By the way, you may wish to take the opportunity to remind children not to run off from mass too early. After all, somebody left the first mass (the Last Supper) early too and we don’t want to be like him, do we?
As we have discussed a few weeks ago, the physical food we eat gives us physical strength to do physical work. What kind of physical work do we do? Homework, housework, play, etc. What happens to the food, though, if we were to eat it all that food and do not do any work? Well, take this politely: it comes out in the toilet and is useless to anybody.
Likewise, the spiritual food we eat at mass gives us spiritual strength to do spiritual work. What kind of spiritual work do we do? Love, pray and do good deeds. What happens to the spiritual food, though, if we were to eat it all that spiritual food and do not do any spiritual work? Well, take this politely: it probably comes out in a spiritual toilet and is useless to God. We wouldn’t want that to happen, do we? Discuss specific things we could do to avoid such a situation,