September 6th, 2015 (see other dates)
Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Discussion Questions for Reading 1What are some of the things that happen in our world that cause you to feel fearful or hopeless? How do you handle those feelings? In what ways are you helped at such times by your faith? By your family and friends? By others?
There are always people who are going through times of trouble or doubt, sickness or poverty. What are some of the ways people your age can help to communicate the healing love of Jesus to these people?
Reading 1 Isaiah 35:4-7
Reading 1 ReflectionTimes of fear and hopelessness make our hearts feel pinched and small. When the people of the kingdom of Judah were threatened by their enemies, God took pity on their fear and hopelessness. He sent the prophet Isaiah with a message that strengthened them. Isaiah foretold a time when God would come to save his people. The signs of God's coming would include the healing of the blind, the deaf, and the lame.
These signs of the Messiah's coming were later fulfilled by Jesus as the One sent by God. We who follow him are called to share his work of caring for the weak, the sick, and the poor among us.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2Among people your age, in what ways are the poor sometimes shown less respect than those who have more money? Why is it easy for people to discriminate against the poor? What kinds of poverty are you aware of in your school or parish?
How can you and your friends be an example of God's special love for the poor? In what ways can you serve those who are poor in health or physical abilities?
Reading 2 James 2:1-5
Reading 2 ReflectionThe expression "telling it like it is" definitely fits this reading. Saint James points a finger at the common practice of showing greater respect to the rich than to the poor. When this kind of discrimination is practiced in a church setting, it is an even greater offense than it is elsewhere. James reminds us that poor are especially loved by God and are chosen to be "rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom."
As members of the faith community, we are to share God's love and concern for the poor who live in our midst. They may be poor in financial resources. Or they may be poor in spiritual or intellectual gifts. Whatever they lack, they are never to be discriminated against or thought less important than those who are in any way poor.
Discussion Questions for GospelHow would you describe the friends of the deaf man? Why do you think Jesus took the deaf man aside? How did Jesus use his own body in the ritual of healing? Why do you think he groaned when he looked up to heaven? In what way is the man who is healed a sign of the Messiah's presence?
What does the example of Jesus teach us about how we are to respond to those who are hearing-impaired or otherwise physically-challenged? In what ways can we be helpful to people who have speech impediments of any kind?
Gospel Mark 7:31-37
Gospel ReflectionWhat was promised in today's first reading we see fulfilled in this gospel story. A man who is deaf and suffers from a speech impediment is taken by his friends to see Jesus. Moved by the man's pitiful condition, Jesus takes him aside and performs a healing ritual. He concludes by praying that the man's senses "Be opened!" And the man begins immediately to hear and speak plainly.
Despite Jesus' command to keep the miracle a secret, the crowd goes wild with excitement and spreads the news throughout the region. They praise Jesus because "He has done everything well!" Jesus, however, does not want them to expect a Messiah who will bring them political power and economic riches. He was a Messiah who used God's power only to serve others and not to avoid suffering himself.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Puppet DramatizationDramatize the story from James 2:1-5 using puppets. Provide the children with paper bags or tongue depressors. Have them make one into a rich man using markers, sequins, feathers, fabric, etc. Then have them make the other puppet a poor man with little ornamentation. Read the story from the book of James and have the children use their puppets to act it out as you read it.
Communicating in a Different LanguageDiscuss with the children what it must be like not to be able to hear. Have the children place their hands over their ears. Say something to them quietly and ask what if felt like for them to see your lips move and know you were saying something but they couldn?t hear it. Explain that there are many people who are unable to hear, but we can still communicate with them. Explain that there is another language, called sign language, that is done using our hands. Teach the children a few signs, such as hello and my name is?
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Dramatizing DiscriminationWith your group, review the reading from Saint James. Decide how you will dramatize the scene he describes. Here are some questions to consider together:
1 Who will serve as the narrator?
2 Who will portray the rich person and the poor person?
3 What other characters or onlookers might be included in the scene?
4 What props and costumes pieces might we use?
5 Will we include a follow-through scene in a classroom or a church in today's world? What kind of discrimination will we show against the poor?
6 What message do we want our audience to receive and remember?
Testing Our HearingJesus wants all his followers to be healed of the deafness that prevents us from hearing with our hearts as he did. In a quiet place, take the following hearing test.
Respond to each question by circling "Often," "Sometimes," or "Rarely."
1) When a family member asks for my help, I immediately do whatever I can to be of assistance. Often Sometimes Rarely
2) When I hear someone at school making insulting remarks about someone who is poor or different, I speak up on behalf of the one being insulted. Often Sometimes Rarely
3) When I hear a priest or a teacher describing how we can serve the poor or the sick, I get involved in doing what needs to be done. Often Sometimes Rarely
4) When I hear on the news about someone or some group that is suffering, I pray for them. Often Sometimes Rarely
5) When I hear myself saying "It doesn't matter" or "I don't care" at times when I am really hurt, do I decide to tell the truth about how I feel? Often Sometimes Rarely
Go over your responses. Speak to Jesus in your own words about any need to improve your hearing.
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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