Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Death and resurrection
Points to note
It may be morbid but I think it is very Christian to talk about death. Our culture is unfortunately still not Christian enough to talk about it openly and if we do, death is seen as an end in itself. Is it? Christianity teaches us that death is only a passage to better life and there is no fear of death. Somehow, we do not seem to have taught our Christianity very well.
Due to this, we need to take this discussion sensitively. There could be a bit of discomfort, particularly among some younger children. The discomfort could be` so strong that other children could end up picking it up. While you will need to work out how to deal with it, based on your own level of comfort and the situation with the children, my preference is to deal with it: stop the discussion and get the children to talk about their fears, which is usually what they have heard. This will be a good opportunity to launch into the planned discussion. If you do not deal with it immediately, try to ensure that at least the fears of the children with discomfort are dealt with during the planned discussion.
Be sensitive. Children normally would not experience any loss and mourning until they are old enough or the deceased is close enough to them. So, while younger children may not feel the loss of an uncle who they have not met, any child of Children Liturgy of the Word age certainly feel the loss of a doting parent.
Acclamation before the Gospel
Stay awake, praying at all times
for the strength to stand with confidence before the Son of Man
In Jesus’ days, belief in resurrection of the dead was not an article of faith. Some did and some did not and they then to argue a lot about it. Sadducees were a group of high-profile people who did not and they were found among high priests. They generally fought (in debates) the Pharisees but were largely unpopular with the people.
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
Some Sadducees – those who say that there is no resurrection – approached Jesus and they put this question to him, “Master, we have it from Moses in writing that if a man’s married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for the brother. Well, then, there were seven brothers. The first, having marries a wife, died childless. The second and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children. Finally, the woman herself died. Now, at the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife since she had been married to all seven?”
Jesus replied, “The children of this world take wives and husbands, but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are sons of God. And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all men are in fact alive.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord
It may be a strange time but let’s talk about Easter? What is painted, hidden, and associated with Easter? Easter eggs!! Why do we have Easter eggs? Look at an egg (it would be good if you have an egg handy). Is it alive? No. But what happens if the mother hen sits on it for 21 days. It hatches and new life comes out. Something that looks dead comes alive. So it is with Jesus on Easter Sunday. He who looks dead is actually alive.
Jesus says the same thing about seeds. Does a seed look alive? (It would be good if you have a seed handy). Does it move or jump about? But what happens if a seed is planted in the ground and watered? It sprouts and new life emerges.
Let’s put that aside for a while. Has anyone attended a funeral? Children may not be allowed to attend the funeral but they would have witnessed the stress from the loss and mourning at home. Ask them about what they see from others. If they have seen a corpse, let them talk about it. Let them talk about the sorrow and the negativity that they saw. If someone had a positive incident to talk about, bring it out and highlight it.
Where do you think people go after they die? Other than the standard answers about heaven, be prepared for fanciful ideas. Explain that death is the start of a journey to somewhere else and that other place is a better life for all who have been good. Get them to imagine what heaven looks like and what happens there. Older children may be ready to talk about heaven as a state of mind as opposed to a physical place
What do you think happen to the body after death? Yes, it decays, etc. Christian doctrine teaches us though that, at the end of time, Jesus will return and all Christians will be resurrected. This means that we will get our clean and uncorrupted bodies again. We will all get to live with Jesus in an earthly paradise forever. Like the egg and seed, bodies of Christians who have died, which look dead now but will come back to life again.
This teaching of death as only a passage is why we celebrate the feast-days of saints on the anniversary of their death, not their birth. That is their day of glory when the enter paradise, their birthday in heaven so as to speak.