Fourteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
The harvest is rich but the labourers are few
Points to note
This is a very vivid passage on missionary work. We can either convey to the children the drama, the tension and the enthusiasm of the early church in spreading the Gospel message. Or, we could translate passage into a commitment to proclaim the message in our daily lives. The latter requires very concrete examples of how we are to practise our faith with this missionary intent. Care must be taken to draw on the vividness of the passage and lead it into our ordinary lives. Otherwise, the session could get stuck in between, leading neither into the former nor the latter.
This is a shorter of the two versions available in the Missal. The full reading contains much negative images, which may be a little too difficult a concept for the younger children to grasp within context. Even the shorter reading we have below does contain negative images (eg., ‘sending you out into a dangerous world’, etc.), which may have to be explained carefully to the children.
Acclamation before the Gospel
I call you friends says the Lord,
because I have made know to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
Explain that Jesus has just begun his final journey to Jerusalem. Remember how he was greeted as a king when he entered the Holy City. Obviously, a king will have his heralds and messengers to prepare his way before him. This is how Jesus sent his heralds ahead of him before entering the Holy City, instead.
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Luke
All: Glory to you O Lord
(Lk 10: 1-12,17-20)
The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he was going to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out into a dangerous world. Carry no purse, no backpack, no sandals. Waste no time on long greetings when you meet strangers on the road.
When you first go into a house, say “Peace to this house!” And if peaceful people live there, your peace will go and rest on them; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house and eat whatever food and drink they are offering, for you deserve your wages for all your hard work. Do not move from house to house. Whenever you go to a town where they welcome you, eat what they give you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
There was much enthusiasm in the early Church on the call to spread the good news to all nations. This is evident from the stories from the Acts of the Apostles.
There is also a sense of urgency, as you can see in the passage. Some people think that the early church expected Jesus to return within a few years after the ascension. That could explain the urgency. But, there is also urgency in people who have a piece of good news to tell. After all, no child with good marks in the exams would delay telling their parents of it.
Retell the story, highlighting the drama and the tension in it. Convey the enthusiasm and urgency in the calling. Stress that Jesus would like to have a lot of people to help him.
Few, however, do so. Get them to point out those people they know who have helped spread the good news. Ensure that the people they mention are not too remote from them. Do they think it is important that there are such people? Would they have known about Jesus if there were no such people?
What do you call people who spread the good news and tell people about Jesus? Missionaries. Explain the role of missionaries and what they do. They are sent out to spread the Gospel as priests, preachers, catechists and pastoral workers. They may be ordained priests or lay people.
Link it up with the sacrifices that missionaries are supposed to make if they are to work to spread the good news. Remember the session last week when we talked about the sacrifices a priest has to make to be a priest? Go through again with the children on the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience that they made.
Discuss the triple prohibitions that Jesus gave to the disciples.
No purse – this means no money. So, how would they get food? They have to ask people for it or work for it. If they have to ask people, wouldn’t they need to be nice to people? It wouldn’t make sense would it for a missionary to be nasty to people and then ask them for food? Missionaries therefore have to show the qualities of Christ to the people they meet.
No backpack – this means no additional supplies. So, where would they get medicine if they fall sick, etc. Jesus wanted the missionaries to depend on God.
No sandals – Can you imagine them walking with no sandals? It must be rather painful. What Jesus was saying was that they will need to be prepared for suffering if they are truly committed to the Gospel. Some of them were martyred for the faith while all of them were rejected or made fun of.
Discuss how the children in turn could help spread the message. Make the task that they could do as simple ones. It is often the small deeds that remind people that Jesus loves them. It is important to translate the enthusiasm of the seventy-two disciples into the small deeds that they could do.