Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Points to note
I have opted out of the Gospel reading that is based on rather difficult principles, which can be controversial even among adults. I have chosen the second reading instead.
You may note from the reading that the image of the race is explicitly referred to only once in the reading although the rest of the reading implies the image. In reading the passage, therefore, care should be taken to stress that verse of the reading and where possible, actions and attitudes accompanying the reading after that verse should reflect the actions of a race. It is easier to make these references in the subsequent working through of the reading.
As the Gospel is not read, there is no Acclamation before the Gospel.
As the Gospel is not read, there is no dialogue before the Gospel.
Explain to the children that this reading is not from the Gospel. We do not know who the author of the letter to the Hebrews is but we know that he was trying to explain to Jewish Christians about Jesus.
A Reading from the letter to the Hebrews
(Hb 12: 1-4)
With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us, we too then should throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily, and keep running steadily in the race we have started. Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which is still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the right of God’s throne. Think of the way he stood such opposition from sinners and then you will not give up for want of courage. In the fight against sin: you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of death.
This is the Word of the Lord
Have you ever been in a race before? No, not just games: what about competition types of races. Have anyone been to competitions? Sports day? Football matches? Discuss the atmosphere there. Who were the people involved in sports day? The competitors, the people they are competing against, the organisers, the spectators.
Discuss that if they were to compete in Sports day, what do they have to do to prepare themselves? Discuss the training and probably the prayers, too, etc. Discuss how important the preparations are. Discuss how difficult the race may seem to be and how the finishing line seems to be so far away. What urges them on? The knowledge that they have done it before and reached the finishing line. And also the crowd! Wouldn’t they run all the faster if they know that their coach and friends are there cheering them on. And their parents.
Explain that the writer of this letter is telling his friends that they too have to prepare for the mission (remember mission: we have been talking about mission for the last few Sundays).
Just like for the race, we have to prepare a lot for doing God’s word: which is to let others know that we are Christians by the love we show to each other. And just like in the race, doing God’s work may seem to be really difficult at times. But we know that in the crowd, Jesus and the saints are cheering us on. And because of that we are trying harder. It also helps that we know that Jesus and saints have been having a lot of problems when they tried to bring the Gospel to other people.
We think of stories of the saints when we are in difficulties, especially those stories similar to the difficulties we currently are in. If there is time, you may wish to discuss the saints as examples to us.