September 15th, 2013 (see other dates)
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Discussion Questions for Reading 1One reason the Jewish people love Moses (and why we, their spiritual descendants, love Moses) is because he continued to love his people even when they were wrong. He pleaded for them. He asked God to forgive them. Has this happened in your life? Has someone had to plead for you with a teacher ("Please, if he has the homework in by Friday, can he go on the field trip?") or a neighbor ("I know she was playing her music too loudly, and she is very sorry she woke your baby. We want to be good neighbors, so we have bought her earphones to use from now on.")? Moses was being an advocate. To advocate means "to speak for" someone. Who are your advocates? When are you an advocate for others?
Reading 1 Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
Reading 1 ReflectionAfter the Israelites had agreed to keep God's commandments, Moses returned to the mountain for forty days. While he was gone, the people broke the first commandment
by making an idol to worship in the place of God. With that, the Bible reading pictures God as ready to reject them and start all over again with Moses as the one person who has kept the covenant. But the story shows Moses pleading with God to remember all that God had done for the Israelites and all that God had promised to the Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Hearing Moses' prayer, God forgave the people.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2In the Eastern Church, the people say a prayer together before Communion. They pray, "I believe, O Lord, and confess that you are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the greatest." These words came originally from Saint Paul, but each of us can truly say that "I am the greatest sinner I can possibly be at this moment." No one is perfect. We all sin. And so we all have reason to trust in God's mercy! Have you experienced God's mercy? Have you passed along God's mercy by forgiving others who have offended you?
The monk, Thomas Merton, was once asked, "How can we be most like God?" He answered, "Be merciful. Just go around forgiving everybody everything all the time. That's what God does." Can you recall what Jesus said about being merciful? How can you make mercy a part of your life?
Reading 2 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Reading 2 ReflectionThe second reading is a prayer of thanks for the mercy granted to Saint Paul. Although Paul was once a proud and sinful person, Jesus chose him to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Other Christians could see Jesus, mercy, grace, and patience at work in Paul. They could be assured that even the greatest sinner was not beyond God's reach.
Discussion Questions for GospelThere is someone, let us say "a friend," who is always losing her reading glasses. But she always looks for them because she needs them. They are very valuable to her, not because they cost a lot, but because they help her to do something very necessary to her life. When she loses them, she spends a lot of time looking for them.
Did you ever lose something and not bother to look for it? What does that say about the value you place on that object? From the teaching of Jesus, we know we are valuable to God. We do get lost at times, but God would never "lose" us. He never forgets about us.
He always knows where we are! But sometimes it seems we "lose" God. We forget about him. We forget that we are valuable to him. What happens to us and to our lives when we forget our value as children of God? What happens when we forget that all other people are valuable to God, too?
One way to celebrate our value to God is to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
This sacrament celebrates our finding God and God finding us, even in the midst of our busy lives. When is this sacrament offered in your parish? Ask your family to celebrate being found by God by celebrating this sacrament together soon.
Gospel ReflectionIt's celebration time! The lost sheep has been found. The lost coin has been located. Jesus tells these two "lost and found" parables to show us how delighted God is when a sinner is welcomed home. Notice that God does not just "sit around" waiting and hoping that the sinner will show up. God goes out like a shepherd seeking that one lost lamb, like a woman seeking that one special coin. Then God says, "Rejoice with me! A sinner has repented."
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Performing ParablesIn the gospel, Jesus tells three parables, the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son. Divide the class into three groups. Assign each group one parable and have them act it out for the other children.
Lost and FoundIn the parable of the Lost Coin, the woman searches until she finds the coin she lost. Play a game with the children. Have the children sit in a circle on the floor with their hands behind their backs. Select on child to sit in the middle of the circle. As this child closes his eyes, walk around the outside of the circle and place a coin in one child's hands. Then have the child in the center of the circle try to guess who has the coin. Continue until all children get to "find" the lost coin.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Lost and FoundA friend writes to you and says that he/she has done something very wrong. Your friend doesn't think that God will ever forgive him/her and wants to know what you think. After reading today's Scripture passages, what advice would you give your friend? Write your advice on a 3x 5 index card. Write at the top of your card, LOST AND FOUND.
Then stop for a moment and pray for all those who need to experience God's mercy and love. Do you know someone who does? Then give your lost and found message to that person. If not, keep it as a message to yourself and a special reminder of God's love.
A Prayer of Sorrow and LoveWhen we celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation, we say an Act of Contrition. In this prayer, we not only express sorrow for sin, but we express our confidence in God's mercy and love.
On a separate piece of paper, draw an open cross?a cross that you can write inside. You may want to use a ruler to help you draw straight lines. In the cross, write an Act of Contrition in your own words. (Note: The prayer you write will be kept confidential.)
This familiar Act of Contrition may guide you:
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong
and in failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help,
to do penance,
to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ
suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy.
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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