Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Images

Trust in Jesus


Points to note

This is another vivid account of the powers of Jesus and of faith in him.  As such, there are many images that can be drawn from this passage.  One could also concentrate on the powers of Jesus to calm the sea.  If you choose to concentrate on this image, though, it is recommended that the demonstration of his powers by Jesus should not be taken only as such but the powers are demonstrated to illustrate a requirement of Christian living: that Jesus’ powers are available to us if we but trust in him.


Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in the heaven and glory in the highest heavens!
Alleluia!

Gospel
Jesus was tired after teaching people.  However, as we have seen last week, people did not leave him alone, and he had to feed five thousand of them.  Now, he is left even more tired and wishes to go away with his friends for some rest.



The Lord be with you.
All:   And also with your spirit.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All:   Glory to you O Lord
(Mt 14:22-33)
Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away.  After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray.  When evening came he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a headwind.  In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified.  “It is a ghost,” they cried out in fear.  But at once, Jesus called out to them, saying, “Courage!  It is I!  Do no be afraid!”  It was Peter who answered, “Lord”, he said, “if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.”  “Come,” said Jesus.  Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink.  “Lord!  Save me!” he cried.  Jesus put out his hands at once and held him.  “Man of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”  And as they got out of the boat the wind dropped.  The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

This is the Word of the Lord


Dialogue

Have you ever seen when a baby plays with his parents?  Can you see the baby’s face when his father tosses him up in the air and then catches him again?  Is there any fear?  Discuss how the baby feels safe because he knows that his father will catch him before he falls.  Note the fact that the thought that his father will not catch him does not even cross the baby’s mind.

Discuss how we may have such a personal experience ourselves.  Ever gone into a big crowd like at a football match?  Discuss how the children would hold the hands of the parents tightly so that they will not get lost.  Ever been frightened when going camping?  Discuss how we keep closely to the adults to be safe.  There may be other examples.

Go through the reading and discuss the salient points, bringing out how the various peoples felt at the following points:
·       When Jesus and the disciples went out onto the boat to rest and instead, a storm broke out, were the disciples exasperated at losing their rest in addition to being frightened?  Sometimes, we worry instead of praying.
·       When Jesus decided to go for a walk, were the disciples frightened to see Jesus walking on water?  Who else would walk on water?  Ghosts?  Sometimes, we see the worst in all good things.
·       When Peter wanted to join Jesus walking on water, what was he anticipating (walking on water – come on??!!) and why did you think he wanted to walk on water as well?  Sometimes, we think that faith is easy, and we don’t prepare & pray about the hard part – keeping going with Jesus.
·       When Peter began walking on water, what did he begin to see?  The winds and the waters would seem frightening and he probably began to wonder what he was doing, walking on water!  Sometimes, we get easily distracted when ‘reality’ sets in.
·       When Peter began to sink: why did he sink?  Where do you think he should have kept his eyes if not on the wind and the water?  What was his reaction?  Sometimes, we only reach out to Jesus after we get into trouble.

·       When Jesus hauled him back into the boat, what did Peter think?  What did the other disciples think of Jesus and Peter?  Sometimes, we wonder what could have been if we had that little more courage.

Discuss the lessons of this reading: that to do anything, we must keep our faith in Jesus, keep our eyes on him at all times and do everything that he wants us to do, the way he wants us to do it.


A little story
A man went mountain climbing.  As he climbed, suddenly he slipped and fell down a very steep cliff.  With no other hope, he closed his eyes, called out, “God, help me!” held out his hand and grabbed the only branch growing out of the face of the cliff.  As he was hanging there by that one little branch, he looked down the cliff and saw the bottom a long way off.  So, he looked up and shouted, “Anyone up there?”  A booming voice replied, “Yes.”  With relief, the climber shouted, “Can you help me?”  The booming voice replied, “Yes, I can help you but you must trust me.  Do you trust me?”  The climber shouted, “Of course I trust you!”  The booming voice continued, “If you trust me, you must do everything I tell you to do.”  Exasperated, the climber shouted, “Of course I trust you and I will do whatever you want me to do: just get me out of here!”  The booming voice said, “Let go of that branch!”  The climber looked down and then looked up and then shouted, “Anyone else up there?”
You may laugh, but what would you have said?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Images

The mass as a meal


Points to note

Actually, the image stated above is not exactly accurate.  Liturgists agree that the feeding of the five thousand does not constitute a mass.  In fact, some liturgists even contend that no incident involving Jesus, including the Last Supper, can constitute a mass: The mass is a sacrifice and it cannot be a sacrifice if the victim is still presiding!

The feeding of the five thousand, though, contains some elements of the mass.  In particular, it highlights what is known as the four liturgical actions: take, bless, break and give; which is central to the celebration at mass.  A wider discussion of the mass is invited.


Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace on the earth and glory in the highest heavens!
Alleluia!

Gospel
Explain that Jesus has been teaching the people: remember the parables of the past weeks?  Now, he is tired.

The Lord be with you.
All:   And also with you.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All:   Glory to you O Lord
(Mt 14:13-21)
When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death he withdrew by boat on a lonely place where they could be by themselves.  But the people heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot.  So, as he stepped shore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.

When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go off to the villages to buy themselves some food.”  Jesus replied, “There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.”  “But,” they answered, “All we have is five loaves and two fish.”  “Bring them here to me.”  He said.  He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessings.  And breaking the loaves, he handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds.  They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps remaining, twelve baskets full.  Those who ate numbered five thousand men, to say nothing of women and children.

This is the Word of the Lord


Dialogue

Identify those children who have already celebrated their Holy Communion.  You may wish to use them to help lead the discussions.

Have you been to a birthday party?  Do you enjoy it?  Let the children talk about the birthday parties that they have been in and enjoyed.

Is there a big table at the birthday party?  Is there a clean and pretty tablecloth on the table?  What do you find on that table?  Lots of food.  What takes the pride of place on the table?  The birthday cake.  Let the children talk about their favourite food at birthday parties and the best cake they have ever seen.

Who is the most important person at the birthday party?  The birthday boy/girl.  Is he/she the only person needed to make a party?  Get them to imagine if they have a party with all the favourite food and cake but there is no one to share it with or to play with.  Without the guests, we cannot have a party.

Do you know that the mass is a meal?  Draw parallels with the birthday party.  At church, there is a table (the altar) with a table cloth on it (altar cloth).  The pride of place on the table is the bread and wine.

Focus more on the people.  Just like in a birthday party, we have someone who must be there for it to be a mass.  The priest.  Discuss also about the people.  Imagine if only the priest turns up for mass and no one else, would that be a mass?  Actually, it would be a canonically valid mass, but common sense would tell us that it is not complete without the community being present.

Link it back to the reading where Jesus had a meal with a lot of people.  Without the people, the glory of God cannot be seen.  Discuss why people are so important to make a meal complete.  We do not eat just because we are hungry.  We also take the opportunity of the eating environment to socialise and strengthen our bonds with each other.  In children terms, to make friends and to play.  Mealtime is always more fun the bigger the crowd.

One final point: do we invite people who are close to us or people we hardly know to our parties?  In the church, we attend mass with people who we know to have the same beliefs about God as we do.  These people are part of our Christian family.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time



Images

Dreams and sacrifices


Points to note

This reading completes a series of three parables that Jesus told.  For this reading, only the shorter version in the Missal is used.  The longer alternative version has further parables.

This reading contains only two parables with the same theme.  This one theme can generate many messages: possessions, sacrifices, etc.  This reading focuses on the idea of sacrifices.  A more positive slant is given by the lead up where we discuss a little more on dreams for which we are willing sacrifice.


Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
I call you friends, says the Lord,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from our Father.
Alleluia!

Gospel
As this parable follows on directly from that last week, you may wish to revisit the parables of the sower and the wheat & the darnel briefly before starting this reading.

The Lord be with you.
All:   And also with your spirit.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All:   Glory to you O Lord
(Mt 13:44-52)
Jesus said to the crowds, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.”

This is the Word of the Lord


Dialogue

What most would you like to do when you grow up?  Guide the discussions towards achievements rather than what jobs the children would like to have.  These achievements need not be big ones that can only be achieved when the children grow up.  It may be something simple like pass the exams or meet Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus (no, they are not my dreams); or something big like fly jet fighters or climb Mount Everest.  Take your time to describe the achievements, focussing on the activities themselves, e.g., the act of climbing.  Discuss how much the children would like to achieve these ambitions.

Discuss what is required for someone to achieve these achievements.  For instance, climbing Mount Everest would require a lot of training in mountain climbing as well as keeping fit.  Passing the exams would require a lot of studying.  Discuss whether these preparations are easy things to do or not.  Some of these efforts require us to give up doing things we enjoy so that we can achieve our dreams.  Discuss whether these preparations are worth the effort.  This will largely depends on how desperate we are to achieve our dreams.


Discuss the parables and how the persons in the parable are willing to give up everything, i.e., sell everything they own.  Link it up with what Jesus is trying to say.  What does the treasure and the pearl represent?  Salvation from doing God’s work.  What does selling everything they owned mean?  We give up everything to do God’s work.  For instance, a priest may give up cherished ambitions (eg., wealth, family) and become a priest.  We give up a lunch or something that we would spend money on to give our Lenten money to the poor.