This Man Welcomes Sinners
March 10th, 2013 (see other dates)
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Discussion Questions for Reading 1When the people could not provide for themselves, God gave them what they needed. But when the people could gather their own food, what did God do? How is God acting like a good parent?
When do you need help from your parents? What can you do now for yourself that you could not do when you were younger? Sometimes parents and children (or others in authority and the people reporting to them) disagree about the issue of freedom and responsibility. This is part of human growth, and Jesus told a parable about it. Look up the parable of the talents, especially these verses: Matthew 25: 21and 23. What do we read here about freedom and responsibility? What are some ways you can show you are faithful in small things?
God still provides the "manna" of the Eucharist for us. We do not live completely on our own. We depend upon the gift of Jesus' life within us. How can you show that you appreciate this gift of God?
Reading 1 Joshua 5:9a, 10-12
Reading 1 ReflectionThe Passover celebration described in today's reading is the first in the Promised Land. Because they have now settled in Canaan, the people no longer need the manna (the "bread from heaven") God has been providing on their journey through the desert. Their new homeland will produce all the food they need.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2Reconciliation is a key theme of the Lenten season. How can you make it a key theme in your life? During this Lenten season, how can you prepare yourself to be Christ's ambassador of peace?
Reading 2 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Reading 2 ReflectionPaul enthusiastically describes how God has made all things new through Christ. He pictures each of us as an ambassador of peace sent by God to our own little corner of the world. To be effective ambassadors, we must first experience God's peace in our lives. One way we can do this is through the sacrament of Reconciliation, a sacrament of peace.
Discussion Questions for GospelHint: A dramatic reading or acting-out of this gospel story can help us understand its message. Have you ever had the experience of being forgiven or "taken back" into your family or group of friends?
Have you ever forgiven someone who really hurt you? (How did it feel to be acting so much like God?)
Consider the elder brother. Have you ever felt that someone else in your family or among your friends "has it better" or easier than you do? Are you tempted to compare yourself with others? Each child in a family is different. Sometimes, to meet each child's needs, parents cannot treat each child the same. How did the father in this parable meet the needs of each of his sons? How does God meet your needs?
Pray: Jesus, during this Lenten season, help me to ask for forgiveness. Help me to forgive generously as God does. Help me to celebrate that I am God's child. I do not have to compare myself with others. My needs are being met as God knows best. Amen.
Gospel Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Gospel ReflectionReligious people often criticized Jesus for eating and associating with sinners. But these people did not realize that everyone needs God's mercy and love. In today's gospel story, Jesus wants us to know what God's mercy is like. When anyone sins and is sorry for that sin, God rushes out at top speed to embrace that person. Even when we feel that we may be undeserving of God's love, Jesus tells us that God rejoices like the father in the gospel story.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Keys to PeaceIn the second reading, Paul tells us to spread forgiveness and peace to all. Have children name ways that they can do this. Provide each child with several keys cut out of construction paper. Have the children illustrate on each of the keysa way that they can share peace. Punch a hole in each key and thread onto a pipe cleaner. Twist the ends of the pipe cleaner together to make a key ring.
The Gospel Comes to LifeReenact the gospel reading of the Forgiving Father (Luke 15:1-3,11-32). Select one child to be the father, one child to be the younger son that left, and one child to be the older son. Have other children act out the parts of the townspeople, the farmer, the pigs, and the father's servants. Provide simple props as needed.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Sending a Faith e-mailAll of us can identify with the younger son in today's gospel parable. We know what it feels like to sin, to recognize our need for forgiveness, and to yearn to be welcomed home again.
In twenty-five words or less, write an e-mail that you think expresses the message of the parable that people need to hear.
To: The People of the World
How can you live this message in your life today?
Completing the ParableHave you noticed that the parable in today's gospel does not really have an ending? We are told all about the elder son's jealousy and refusal to celebrate. We hear the father's explanation to the elder son. But then what? How do you think the story might end? Write what you think happens next, beginning where the parable leaves off.
After hearing his father's words, the elder son . . .
Try to identify with the elder son. Ask yourself, "What would I say or do? What should I do? Why?"
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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