Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Points to note
There are various imageries in this reading, some of which could leave negative impressions if not explained carefully. It is best therefore to concentrate on a single imagery and convey that positively. The idea of Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me is an appropriate one for this session.
Avoid belabouring the point of the rewards of the welcoming. Christians should learn to welcome for the sake of welcoming and not for the lure of rewards that Jesus promised. Welcoming could also be placed in the context of our culture of hospitality in Asia.
It may also be a good idea to skim over the first paragraph unless you are prepared to explain it well. It may be necessary to do this for the older children.
Acclamation before the Gospel
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.
Explain to the children that Jesus has been warning his disciples about the difficulties of being disciples.
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 10: 37-42)
Jesus taught the Twelve like this: “Anyone who prefers his family to me cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow what I did cannot be my disciple. Anyone who try to save his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for me will save it.
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and those who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
“Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man because he is a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.
“If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.”
This is the Word of the Lord
Have any of you ever had a friend or a relative who came from far away to stay with you for a while? Did you have to prepare for them? Discuss how the preparations were made and who made the preparations.
When they do arrive, do you make them welcome? How? Discuss the welcoming that takes place. Extend it slowly to discuss welcoming visitors into the house and other types of welcoming. In the church, we sometimes also welcome visitors, priests or our friends who have been away for a long time.
Do you welcome Jesus? Have you welcomed Jesus? How would you welcome Jesus? Allow them to talk of welcoming Jesus the person of 2000 years ago. Then, explain that welcoming Jesus means welcoming those whom he sent to us. Discuss the types of people Jesus sends to us: disciples, priests, people in need.
You may wish to refer to Mt 25, the scene of the last judgement where Jesus said, “if you did this to the least of my brothers, you did it to me”. This will lead on to the point that hospitality is not limited to the times we have visitors in our house or in our church. It means being kind and caring. This will involve people we know, for instance visitors that we have been talking about, and people we don’t. You may wish to discuss how we care for them and how when we care for them, we are welcoming them and Jesus into our hearts.
At one point, you may wish to bring out the meaning of the word apostle. The word is of Greek origin and means ambassador. This will have a bearing in our discussion in that an ambassador is a representative of another country. If we welcome the ambassador, we welcome the people of the country. If we insult the ambassador, we insult the country he represents. Therefore, if we welcome an apostle of Jesus, we are welcoming Jesus. Discuss who, among the people we meet, can be apostles of Jesus, and how we welcome them.