December 23th, 2012 (see other dates)
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Discussion Questions for Reading 1If Jesus came to bring peace, why do we still have war in our world? Why do we sometimes experience a lack of peace in our lives?in our families, among our friends, or in relationships with other people?
When have you experienced the peace of Jesus? How can you bring that peace to others?
During these final days of Advent, how will you show that you are a follower of the Prince of Peace?
Reading 1 Micah 5:1-4a
Reading 1 ReflectionWhen the prophet Micah proclaimed the coming of a shepherd-king, the Israelites in Jerusalem were under attack. Their enemies, the Assyrians, were ready to "wipe them out." So the good news that God would send them a strong and just ruler was music to their ears. Their king would be born in Bethlehem?a small, unimportant town?of the royal family of David. And he would bring lasting peace.
After the resurrection of Jesus, the early Christian community recognized that these words of Micah were a wonderful description of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2We often think of God's will as something hard to do. What if "God's will" meant something that exactly fit the talents and abilities God gave you? Does God's will always mean big things or major decisions? How can you do God's will in your everyday life?
Reading 2 Hebrews 10:5-10
Reading 2 ReflectionOne of the messages in today's second reading is that we should recognize how the perfect sacrifice of Jesus differs from the sacrifices of the Old Testament. Those sacrifices were often offerings of animals. Jesus' sacrifice was the offering of himself.
Giving yourself?your time, talents, and love?is the greatest gift you can offer to others. Reflect for a moment on how willing you are to give this gift. Ask Jesus to help you to follow his example.
Discussion Questions for GospelMary went to help Elizabeth. Mary then had a happy and joyful experience and was blessed by her cousin.
Think of a time when you helped someone. How were you blessed?
Did you recognize some of the words in this reading as part of the Hail Mary?
Pray together now:
Leader: Blessed Mary, help us to be more willing trust the Lord's words to us.
All: Hail Mary, full of grace . . .
Gospel Luke 1:39-45
Gospel ReflectionMany artists have painted this moving scene described by Luke in today's gospel. Mary has made a difficult journey through the hill country to be with her relative Elizabeth, who is several months pregnant. The young woman, bearing in her body the Savior, and the older woman, carrying John the Baptist, embrace each other with tears and laughter. Elizabeth recognizes Mary's true identity as "the mother of my Lord." She calls Mary "blessed" three times. Mary is blessed because she trusted that the Lord's words to her would come true.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Lighting the Advent WreathHave children "light" the last purple candle of their Advent wreaths. As the children light the candles, sing the following song to the tune of Here We Go ?Round the Mulberry Bush.
Advent is the special time, the special time, the special time.
Advent is the special time, Christmas will soon be here.
The VisitMary visited her cousin Elizabeth when she was in need. Have children think of someone they know who needs them. Provide various art materials and have children use these to create a special card for that person. Encourage children to visit that person and deliver the card.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Sharing the JoyNote: You may want to divide into groups to brainstorm ideas.
While she was waiting for the birth of her son, Mary made a journey to be with someone who needed her. Following Mary's example, make a list of three possible service projects you and your group might do to help a needy person in your parish. Then, as a group, choose one of these projects as your focus. Make a plan of action together.
Our Plan of Action
How and when will you carry out your project?
Looking Ahead to the Christmas SeasonAdvent is almost over, and we are about to enter into a new and very joyful season of the Church year?the Christmas Season. During this season, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. As followers of Jesus, we do not limit our celebration of Christmas to just one day. We celebrate this feast over a number of weeks. The season begins with the feast of Christmas and ends with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
During these days before Christmas, you may be wrapping presents for those you love. But one of the best gifts you can give others is the gift of your prayers.
Take a few minutes to think about those for whom you would like to pray this Christmas. Draw three circles on a separate piece of paper to make ornaments. Decorate the edges. On each ornament, write the name of a family member or friend and the prayer you will say for that person. Cut out the ornaments and hang them on your Christmas tree as a reminder of your gift of prayer.
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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