Twenty-seventh Ordinary Sunday
Welcoming the family
Points to note
This week’s reading has two parts. As the first part (vv 2-12) deal with divorce, you may wish to leave it out and just have the second part read. The second part (vv13-16) is the favourite children’s story of Jesus blessing the little children. In a way we can interpret a common strand through both seemingly different parts: the family.
The focus on this reading is welcoming a member of the family, like a new baby. Which raises a question: when does a baby become a member of the family? The ancients believe that the soul of a baby waits at the opening of the womb to inhabit the baby at birth, and there is a supply of souls waiting for babies to be born.
Scripture, however, tells us that we are made in the image of God and that God is love. We are, therefore, created out of love. I believe that a baby’s soul is created out of two persons love, when they started to love each other and to prepare for the coming of the baby. That will be before the baby is born and may even be before the baby is conceived.
So, we existed when we were first loved. We joined our family at home when our parents made a place in their hearts for us.
Your word is truth, O Lord,
make us holy with the truth
Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem, which is a long way from Galilee. He stops along the way every now and then to rest.
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk 10: 2-16)
People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessings.
This is the Gospel of the Lord
How many of us have younger brothers or sisters? Those who have none, may think about how their older brothers and sisters related to them. Or younger cousins or friends.
What did your parents do to prepare for the baby’s coming? Did you get involved in the preparations? I always find the reaction of older children to the coming of younger ones interesting to observe: the uncertainty, the jealousy; the fascination; the ‘now I am a big boy/girl’ syndrome. You may get some of that in your discussions.
Those without younger siblings may talk about the preparations that their parents or elder siblings did for them. Sometimes, parents or older siblings may tell them about it. Those who are an only child may talk about preparations for the coming of younger cousins.
Discuss about the fact that we belong to two families: God’s family and our family at home. How does somebody join God’s family? Baptism. Discuss what happened when someone is baptised. Draw out from those who remembered their baptism or those who remembered witnessing someone’s baptism.
When people are baptised, they are welcomed into the Church. The welcoming is done by the community at large. So, it is not just the parties and the family and friends at home.
What do we need to do to prepare for a baptism? How do we welcome a new member of the Church? Explain that there are classes to go to. Get children who have attended any Rite of Initiation of Children, or RCIC, to share what they have attended. At the RCIC and the corresponding RCIA for adults, the beliefs and the practices of the Church are explained to the children. They are also introduced to other Church members, especially those in their communities and BECs so that they can join in the life of the community.
Also important in welcoming is the role of the godparents. Get the children to talk about their godparents. Even people who are baptised as adults have godparents. Officially, in the Church, they are called sponsors. Their role is twofold: (i) they stand in for the parents if anything happens to the parents; and (ii) they ensure that their godchildren are brought up well in the faith and are faithful to God. Sponsors of adults who are baptised also introduce them to other Catholics and ensure that they are happy, comfortable and faithful in their Catholic lives.