To lay down one?s life
May 10th, 2015 (see other dates)
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Brainstorm the various groups and communities to which you belong. What requirements, if any, do people have to meet in order to become members? How would you respond if you thought that some new members did not meet the requirements? Some of Jesus' first followers found it hard to accept those who were not Jews into the Church. Why do you think they resisted the newcomers?
How would you describe Peter's behavior throughout this story? How does your parish welcome those who want to join the Church? What would you say is the most important truth we can absorb from this reading?
Reading 1 Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Reading 1 ReflectionThis reading describes a shocking event in the life of the early Church. Because the first followers of Jesus were all Jewish, they believed that his good news was intended just for the Jews. However, God had other plans. He inspired the centurion Cornelius to invite Peter to his home. And when Peter arrived, he suddenly saw that "God shows no partiality" between Jews and Gentiles. Then the Holy Spirit placed his "seal of approval" on this wonderful revelation by descending on Cornelius and his entire household.
Peter welcomed these newcomers into the Christian community by ordering that they be baptized. He remained with them for a few days to teach them about Jesus and strengthen their faith.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2With your partner or group, come up with as many endings to this statement as you can in one minute: Love means. . .
How would you summarize your group's statements? Who are the people who have shared God's love with you? What are the signs of God's love alive in your parish?
What does this reading say about those who are "without love"? Suggest ways of helping these people come to know God's love.
Reading 2 1 John 4:7-10
Reading 2 ReflectionWe can safely say that the writer of this letter has love on his mind. In fact, he uses the word in one form or another ten times. What he wants all of Jesus' followers to be absolutely certain of in their hearts is that God is love. And before we ever thought of loving God, he loved us first. It is his love in us that we share with one another.
In this joyful Easter season, we are celebrating the greatest proof of God's love for all people. What is that proof?
Discussion Questions for GospelHow many times does Jesus use some form of the word "love" in this gospel reading? Why do you think he repeats it so often? In what ways does Jesus describe how he loves us? What is your favorite statement in this reading? Why? If you had been present at the Last Supper, how do you think Jesus' words would have affected you?
In what small, ordinary ways do you see members of your family, class, or parish "laying down their lives" for others? Consider how they place the needs and desires of others before what they want. Recall how they sacrifice their own time, talents, and material goods to help others.
Gospel John 15:9-17
Gospel ReflectionAnyone who happened to be in a selfish mood when they heard this gospel could not get away from it. Love is everywhere in Jesus' conversation with his friends at the Last Supper. He gives them and us his memorable commandment: "Love one another as I love you." It sounds simple. But he reminds us that loving as he does involves a willingness to "lay down one's life for one's friends."
During Lent we saw this love of Jesus in action. Now during the Easter season we rejoice that such love is victorious over sin and death.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Share the LoveIn the gospel, Jesus commands us to love one another.
Have the children make a treat to share with someone they love. Prepare a crisp cereal marshmallow treat. Recipes may be found on cereal boxes or on different web sites. When the tray of marshmallow crisp treat has set, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut two hearts for each child. Provide pink or red icing and small candies for the children to decorate their hearts. Let the children eat one for a snack and package the other one to take home. Encourage the children to share the heart treat with someone they love.
Love One AnotherEncourage the children to show love to each other. On the prayer table place a small basket and a supply of pink or white paper hearts. Each time a child shows love to someone, have him or her illustrate this on one of the hearts and place it in the basket. When the basket is filled, have a celebration.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Celebrating DifferencesAt the home of Cornelius, Peter caught on to an important message from the Holy Spirit. God shows no partiality among people. God accepts, and wants us to accept, anyone who is open to receive the Spirit.
Brainstorm all the differences you can think of among the people who worship at your parish. Sketch a circle of stick figures and label them with their different characteristics (age, ethnic or racial identity, how they serve or participate in the liturgy, etc.).
Celebrate these differences by writing a prayer, a poem, or a song of gratitude for all these various people God has called together in your parish.
Celebrating FriendsToday's gospel assures us that Jesus calls us his friends.
And he wants us to love our friends as he loves us.
Call to mind one or more friends of the past or the present.
For each friend, name one way he or she has shown true friendship for you.
Now name one way you have shown true friendship for each of these people.
Decide how you will thank Jesus for your friends and celebrate the gift of friendship by sharing a meal, a movie, an athletic event, a concert, a party, or an outing of any kind.
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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