Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Strong persons to help carry burdens
Points to note
There are two separate imageries from this Sunday’s reading. In the first part of the reading, Jesus touched upon the fact that the kingdom of heaven is revealed to mere children. I have chosen for the discussion, the second part with its well-known line, Come to me, all you who labour and are over burdened, and I will give you rest.
This reading can be very abstract for the children and, again, it should be best translated into the more practical terms of children’s lives with the more vivid imageries for younger children.
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 Jesus is travelling around Galilee with his disciples and teaching them along the way.
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
Jesus exclaimed, “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who labour and are over burdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
This is the Word of the Lord
What is a burden? Start with physical burdens and then go onto more mental and emotional ones. Describe it with burdens from children everyday lives: exams anxieties, fears over being punished for a misdeed, etc.
Explain that some people are said to have a heavy heart and what it means. People with a heavy hearts often have burdens which they find difficult to deal with.
If we have a burden, what do we do? Get others to help. Again, it is easy to discuss where a physical burden is involved like getting many people to push a broken down car. In more emotional burdens, we have someone to talk to about it: a teacher, parents, a close friend.
Emphasise that this other person that you would call in to help, be it a physical burden or not, would normally be someone stronger than you. For a physical burden, it would be someone who is bigger and has more muscles. For emotional burdens, it is normally someone who is older and more experienced than us. Discuss the strongest person in the world: Jesus. Discuss how he would help us with our burdens.
For older children, you may want to go into the kind of burdens that Jesus was trying to relieve in his days. For instance, in this passage, he probably meant the burden of the Jewish Law, which heavily prescribes what is permissible and what is not permissible in daily lives. The rules on Sabbath did not allow people to work and travel. Work is defined as lifting a set weight and travel is defined by a set distance. Jesus did away with all that. Does this lesson still apply today? Discuss how laws can become burdensome if the end reason is ignored. Discuss how various people have challenged unreasonable or unjust laws like Jesus did.