July 5th, 2015 (see other dates)
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Share any experiences you have of public speaking or giving oral reports in the classroom. Why do you think many people become anxious when they have to speak in public? When public speaking involves telling unwelcome truths to powerful leaders, what qualities does the speaker need? Who are the people in today's world you recognize as prophets?
What opportunities do you think young people may have for serving as God's spokesperson? What truth about how God wants us to live would you most want to communicate to the world? Why?
Reading 1 Ezekiel 2:2-5
Reading 1 ReflectionMost people fear public speaking. And the ancient prophets of Israel were no exception. They had to proclaim unwelcome truths to the powerful because that is what God sent them to do. Like Ezekiel in today's reading, they felt inadequate to communicate God's message. Ezekiel knew that the Israelites, who were in exile in Babylon, would resist what he had to say about their need to repent.
However, God assures him that the rebellious Israelites will recognize that a true prophet has come to them. Despite his fears, Ezekiel agrees to be God's messenger.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2Many years ago a famous body builder advertised his services with a humorous illustration. It depicted a "Before" sketch of a skinny weakling, and an "After" sketch of a muscular he-man. The ad succeeded because most people want to avoid weakness of all kinds. What kinds of weakness do people your age worry about? What kinds of strength do they admire? How do you think Jesus might define "weak" and "strong"? Why? Would they be the same or different from the images of strength and weakness perceived by your peer group?
When Paul realized that what he saw as his weaknesses could be used by Jesus, he let go of his pride. He accepted the difficulties that came with serving the Lord. How do you think Jesus has reached others through you? What difficulties have you faced in serving him?
Reading 2 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Reading 2 ReflectionLike Peter and the other apostles, Paul did not suddenly become perfect when he began to follow Jesus. He had been a proud and powerful Pharisee who persecuted the first disciples. Paul received many great graces and blessings as he made his missionary travels and preached the good news. Yet he also had to endure many sufferings like the mysterious "thorn in his side" that he mentions in today?s reading. The purpose of the thorn was to keep him from thinking too highly of himself and taking all the credit for his success as an apostle.
Paul prayed and Jesus revealed a wonderful secret to him. When we cooperate with God's grace, in our weakness God?s power is perfected. Imagine how happy Paul was to discover that "when I am powerless, then I am strong."
Discussion Questions for GospelWhen and why have others ever said to you "You're just too much" or "Who do you think you are?" when they disapproved of you? What might these complaints reveal about the ones who make them? What questions did the people of Nazareth have about Jesus? Why do you think they were so determined to reject him?
Find and quote Jesus' response to the way he has been treated. How does his experience help you to act when you are misunderstood or criticized for doing the right thing?
Gospel Mark 6:1-6a
Gospel Reflection"Who does he think he is?" and "She's just too much!" are common complaints used to belittle others. When Jesus first returned to Nazareth and preached in the local synagogue, his audience was amazed. They could not believe that one who had grown up in their midst could be such an outstanding teacher and healer. Perhaps they envied and feared the power they sensed in him.
Because of their refusal to believe, Jesus could work few miracles among them. He understood that a prophet is not honored in his own hometown. So he moved on to other villages where the people welcomed him.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
The Power of Christ Dwells in UsIn the second reading, Paul tells us that the power of Christ dwells within each of us. Make a bulletin board to illustrate this point. Cover the bulletin board with black paper and write the words, "The Power of Christ Dwells in Us" across the top. Attach an outlet cover to the bulletin board. Write the word, "Christ" on this outlet cover. Draw a plug and attach a long string to this. Put this across the bulletin board with the plug going into the outlet. Reproduce the light bulb pattern on tag board and have the children trace it and cut it out. Have them write their names on the lights and color if desired. Attach these lights to the string on the bulletin board.
We Welcome JesusIn today's gospel, Mark tells us that when Jesus went to his home of Nazareth, people did not accept him or welcome his message.
We don't want to be like this; we want to always welcome Jesus into our lives. Give each child a large piece of construction paper. Provide various craft materials, stickers, markers, crayons, etc. Encourage the children to decorate their construction paper and make it look like a welcome mat. Have the children bring their welcome mats home and put them by the doors to their rooms to always welcome Jesus.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Making MasksLook back at the first reading and the gospel reading. Both describe people who refuse to accept God's word. They are the "hard of face and obstinate of heart."
With your group, make large paper bag or other masks to be worn in role playing skits. Make several masks for the people who refuse to accept either Ezekiel or Jesus. Then design masks for the prophet and the Son of God.
Role Playing ScenesDecide with your group to do one of the following role playing scenes:
1) Ezekiel attempts to deliver God's message of repentance to the Isrealites.
2) Jesus attempts to preach and heal in Nazareth.
3) A young Christian tries to persuade several gang members to turn away from violence.
Wearing the masks from the first activity, act out these scenes for the other groups.
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