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September 8th, 2013 (see other dates)
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Discussion Questions for Reading 1The gift of wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit. How can we open ourselves to this gift?
Sometimes it takes an effort to see "the big picture" of our lives. Sometimes taking time to ask yourself a few questions helps. Where have I been "coming from" the last few years? Where does my life seem to be headed? Is it in a good direction? What are my goals for the next three years or five years? How can I experience more of God's love and share it with others? What steps can I take to reach these goals?
It might help your wise understanding of your life to write these goals down. Then spend time prayerfully reading them over. Offer each one to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to look at your list. Are you moved to add or subtract anything? Write a prayer asking the Spirit to help you act on your good intentions. Then set out with confidence and in the joy of the Spirit on your own wise path!
Pray together: We pray for wisdom, Lord, that we may see your path clearly, walk in it willingly, and know with joy and confidence that all your ways are right for us. Amen.
Reading 1 Wisdom 9:13-18b
Reading 1 ReflectionToday's reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds us of our limitations as human beings. By ourselves, we cannot understand God and God's ways. We have enough trouble trying to figure out the world around us! But if we have the gift of God's spirit of wisdom, we can learn to walk in God's ways. We can grow in our knowledge of God's intentions for us.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2All through the centuries, Christians have lived under many different kinds of governments. In Paul's time, the government was a dictatorship. The Roman emperor had the final say. The government at that time declared that slavery was legal. In another of his letters, Paul gives the Christian viewpoint: "In Christ there is no slave or free. We are all one in him." This should warn us of an important truth: something is not morally right just because it is legal. Can you think of some examples?
Also, some things that the law of a government may declare illegal may be morally right to do. The Church teaches us to obey all just laws. The Church also teaches that life has ultimate value. To save or preserve life, we may or even must break the law. Saint Thomas Aquinas called this "the higher law." Our conscience may demand that we follow "the higher law" but it must be for an extremely serious reason. Can you think of some examples? You may want to research some of the actions taken by those who fought for civil rights for all Americans (in particular African-Americans) during the 1960's.
According to the customs of the time, Philemon had the legal right to punish Onesimus, who was his "property." But Paul spoke up for Onesimus and helped him. Can you speak up for people who are being treated badly and need help? How?
Reading 2 Philemon 9-10, 12-17
Reading 2 ReflectionThe letter of Paul to his friend Philemon is one of warmth and beauty. Paul is making an appeal for Onesimus, Philemon's slave who has run away to be with Paul in prison. The apostle has not only converted Onesimus but has become close friends with him. Now he asks Philemon to treat Onesimus not as a lowly slave but as a brother in Christ.
Discussion Questions for GospelNo one loves us more than Jesus does. No one loves our family members?mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers?more than Jesus does. And he wants us to love one another.
But Jesus knows that sometimes what we think of as "love" may not be. Sometimes misguided "love" can prevent us from growing up and taking responsibility. True love frees us to be our true selves. Jesus is reminding us that we must take responsibility for our choices. We are free to choose to follow him. When we are little, we learn about Jesus from our parents and teachers and we follow their example. When we are older, we must begin to learn what Jesus means in our lives and to follow him because we choose him all the way!
Do you choose Jesus each day in your life? Why or why not? How? How are you learning more about Jesus so that you can choose to follow him? How does your choice of following Jesus make life better for others in your family and among your friends? What are your responsibilities in life? How do you choose to carry them out?
Gospel Luke 14:25-33
Gospel ReflectionJesus is on his way to Jerusalem when he stops to give this no-nonsense talk to a great crowd of people who want to follow him. Like any rabbi of his time, Jesus uses exaggeration to command attention. He wants to get the point across that he must be at the center of his followers' lives. Jesus insists that no one can be his disciple who does not consider him before family or self. The disciple who thinks he or she can serve Jesus part-time is foolish. She is like a builder who has no idea how much it will cost to complete a tower. He like a king who goes to battle with no idea how many troops his enemy has. The disciple must be willing to renounce or give up everything out of love for Christ.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Welcome to Our SchoolIn the second reading, Paul is asking Philemon to welcome his friend. We are also called to welcome others.
Make welcome cards for children who are new to the school.
Reproduce the card for each child. Provide crayons, markers, and other art supplies. Have each child decorate a card and sign his name and class. Give these cards to the school secretary to keep on hand for when new children come.
Carrying Our CrossesIn the gospel reading, Jesus tells us that to be his disciple, we must carry our own crosses. Explain to the children that this means that we sometimes have to do things that we don't want to do or that are hard. And we have to do them without complaining. Have the children make crosses to carry in their pockets to remind them of this. Give each child two pieces of a pipe cleaner, each three inches long. Have them twist one piece on to the other to form a cross. Encourage the children to put these in their pockets.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
From the HeartWrite a prayer-letter to Jesus on behalf of a close friend or relative whom you dearly love. Express your feelings about this friend and your hopes of how Jesus will act in this person's life. Reread your letter each day this week. Do something to show your love for your friend. Write your letter on a separate piece of paper. You might want to design and color a border for this letter and keep it in a special place.
A Faith SearchThe disciples spent three years with Jesus, listening to him and asking him questions. As your grow as a follower of Jesus, you may have questions that you would like to ask him about your faith. In the space below or on a separate piece of paper, draw a lighthouse. (Jesus is the light of the world!) Then write your questions on the paper.
To whom will you go to find the answers to your questions?
Remember, honest questions are not a sign of a lack of faith. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, we must take time?sometimes a long time!?to "ponder in our hearts."
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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