Third Sunday in Lent
Baptism and repentance
Points to note
The reading for the Third Sunday in Lent in Year A dwelt on the idea of water as the life-giver. We expanded that discussion to that of the use of water in baptism. This Sunday, we take it further to discuss the baptism that Jesus gives that is more than mere baptism by water. We will need to touch on the use of water in baptism, of course, but briefly, before going onto to the baptism of repentance. Be careful when talking about repentance: this is not a guilt trip for the children.
For better focus, I have selected the first half of the second reading from the Missal reading. The Gospel reading is particularly difficult to follow for the children.
Acclamation before the Gospel
As the reading is not from the Gospel today, we do not sing the acclamation before the Gospel.
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
A Reading from the letter of St Paul to the Church in Corinth
I want to remind you, brothers, how our fathers were all guided by a cloud above them and how they all passed through the sea. They were all baptised into Moses in this cloud and in this sea; all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, since they all drank from the spiritual rock that followed them as they went, and that rock was Christ. In spite of this, most of them failed to please God and their corpses littered the desert.
This is the Word of the Lord
All: Thanks be to God
Do you remember your baptism? What does the priest pour over the head of a person during a baptism? Why does he use water? Why not something like sand? Be prepared for some really silly answers! What do we use water for? For drinking and for cleaning. Discuss what would happen if we have no water. Discuss what happens if there is too much water.
Can you remember two stories in the Bible where there was lots of water? The crossing of the Red Sea and the Flood. In each, take the children through the story, emphasising that in each case, the water drowned the baddies and saved the good people.
Who was the first person we heard in the Gospel who was baptising people with water? John the Baptist. Who was he? The cousin of Jesus, elder by some six months. He was known as the precursor, which means the one who comes before. In this case, the one who came before Jesus to introduce Jesus to the world. John started telling people about the Good News before Jesus started teaching. John wanted the people to prepare for Jesus’ coming by cleansing themselves as part of their repentance. When John baptised, he wanted the people that he baptised to repent.
Explain repentance. This is where we do something wrong. People get upset with us. We get miserable when people get upset with us. Use everyday examples. Discuss when we did something wrong at home, like taking the cookies when Mom said not to: Mom gets upset and we get punished and we get miserable. Discuss what we do about it: We feel sorry and apologise for it.
The concept of repentance isn’t all that difficult to impart to the children if you parallel it with simple everyday examples. Take your time to explain if necessary, as understanding this will help them grasp next week’s idea of forgiveness.