Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Points to note
The Beatitudes kicks off a new phase in the Sunday readings. For the next few Sundays until Lent begin, the readings will be taken from the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is very central to Christian thinking. It has been likened to a manifesto of Christianity. This is the way we Christians proclaim that we would lead our lives. Often, we fall far short of it, but Christian hope does not allow us to give up trying.
Hope is the essence of the Beatitudes. Which is why the Beatitudes are among the most beautiful of all Christian writings.
Beautiful though this reading may be, there seems to be very few ideas of what we can do with the children other than running through the definitions of what Jesus considers virtues. It is therefore all the more important to keep the children occupied with active participation, perhaps each child reading one Beatitude. Fortunately, the language in the Bible and the Missal is simple enough.
Acclamation before the Gospel
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to mere children.
Explain that we are beginning the Sermon on the Mount. Get them to imagine the scene: Jesus on top of a hill with crowds of people, numbering thousands in all. Hot sun, arid land, shrubs and few trees.
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 5: 1-12)
Seeing he crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
“How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle;
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn;
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right;
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful;
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart;
they shall see God.
Happy the peace makers;
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of nasty things against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
This is the Word of the Lord
From the reading, what are the virtues that Jesus seems to like? It would be a good idea to list down all eight of them on the board. For each point to be discussed, it will be interesting to see what the children’s definitions are, first. After discussing what is meant, discuss how to show these virtues in their daily lives. The meaning in the original Greek may differ slightly from the modern English translation.
Poor in spirit - This means people who have absolutely no one else to turn to in their troubles. God wants us to totally depend on him.
Gentle - Those who do not get too angry, but are willing to stand up for the rights of those who have been wronged.
Mourn - God promises them comfort.
Hunger - In way, to be greedy for everything that God has to offer.
Merciful - Not just feeling sorry for others, but also sharing all the sufferings of others.
Pure in heart - Someone who has been cleansed and thinks and does good things.
Peace makers - Here peace doesn’t mean absence of war. It also means calmness.
Persecuted - People who had nasty things done to them.
Discuss how each one of these virtues can be shown in public. At least discuss a few to illustrate how difficult it can be to follow what Jesus taught us. Jesus never promised us that it will be easy but he promised that he will be with us along the way. He knows because he too has found it difficult when he was on earth with us.