To Save What Was Lost
November 3rd, 2013 (see other dates)
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Julian of Norwich, an anchoress (one who lives alone, "anchored to one spot," in prayer) in medieval England, once had a vision in which she was shown the orld through the eyes of God. It was as small as a hazelnut. Yet God loves and cares for this "little world" he has made. What does it mean to be a son or a daughter of such a caring and loving creator-Father-God? How can we "take after" this caring and loving God who has given us such a beautiful world to live in? How can we find the "imperishable spirit" of God in all things? Name some people, places, and creatures in which you have found something that reminds you of the beauty, care, and love of God.
Reading 1 Wisdom 11:22-12:2
Reading 1 ReflectionIn this reading we are presented with a "God's eye view" of the universe and of our own lives. Yet, far from making us and the rest of our world feel small and insignificant, we are reminded of our own dignity and of the great value of everything God has made. For what God hated, he would not have fashioned! Every plant, every animal, every person God made is loved by God and deserves our respect and love as well. Do we love the universe, the solar system, our world, our fields and streams and mountains and valleys, our wild and domestic animals, as God the creator loves them? Do we love ourselves and other human beings as God the creator loves us? How can we do this? (Consider: The more we fill our lives with love, the less room we will have in them for sin. We will "abandon wickedness.")
Discussion Questions for Reading 2The Thessalonians are assured that they haven't missed anything. All their good works and faith have not been worthless. Jesus will be glorified in them! Do you sometimes feel that you are missing something?that somehow, you are being left behind to struggle alone? How can you reconnect to prayer, to the Scriptures? Whom can you ask to pray for you? Sometimes priests, sisters, parish ministers, teachers, spiritual directors, or friends, would like to encourage others but are not asked! Their mission is to encourage! Go to someone you consider faithful to Jesus and say, "Could I please have a word of encouragement?" How can you reconnect to your parish community? To the sacraments, especially the sacrament of Reconciliation, which can be so encouraging? The Church, the body of Christ, is moving forward, always preparing for the kingdom. Don't just drag along?keep moving forward with the rest of the body! To whom do you look for encouragement? How can you encourage others?
Reading 2 2 Thessalonians 1:11--2:2
Reading 2 ReflectionThe writer of this letter is encouraging the Christians in Thessalonica. They are in the midst of a conflict. They are being led astray by a false prophet who has told them that the "day of the Lord" has already come! The Thessalonians have been looking forward to the Lord's coming as much as anyone else, and to think that Jesus has come already and left them to their earthly struggle is a huge disappointment! It has shaken their faith. Is this all there is? We all hate to hear, "It was great! Too bad you missed it!" or "It's over, and there's nothing left to look forward to." We would never want to hear that about the coming of Jesus and his kingdom!
Discussion Questions for GospelTry to see this story from the point of view of Zaccheus. What kind of person was he? What kind of job did he have? Was he respected by others? Feared? Well-liked? Trusted? Why would Jesus want to be his friend? At what exact point, do you think, did Zaccheus change? What brought him joy? What did he do to show that he had changed?
How are you like the "old Zaccheus," before he met Jesus? How are you like the "new Zaccheus," after he was found and saved by Jesus?
After you have read this story, what do you think about Jesus? Would you like Jesus to "come to your house?" (Hint: If you ask him to, he will!)
Gospel Luke 19:1-10
Gospel ReflectionThe incident in today's gospel may well be a God's eye view of each one of us! We are all "little," like Zaccheus, trying to see Jesus from a distance, and often getting ourselves up into trees or into other difficult situations and needing Jesus to come by and call us back down to earth, back down to an honest relationship with him. "When you come down from there, and admit your need," says Jesus, "we'll talk, heart to heart."
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Welcome JesusHave the children plan a welcome party for Jesus at Zacchaeus' house. Ask what they would do if Jesus were coming to their house. Tell them to form three groups. One group will prepare welcome signs, another group will plan a welcome menu, and the third group will plan some form of entertainment. Have them share their plans.
A Path to JesusMake a path to Jesus (Prayer Space). Use masking tape to make a path around the classroom ending at the Prayer Space. Add a few strips of tape, "detouring" away from the path. Place cards at the intersections of the "detours" with choices such as: taking something that belongs to someone else, hitting others, lying, etc. Follow the masking tape path as a class. As you come to each "detour" read the card and ask the children if you should detour. When the path ends at the Prayer Space, offer the following prayer: "Jesus, help us each day to follow your path. Amen."
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Encouraging WordsThe second reading is part of a letter full of encouraging words to the early Christians of Thessalonika. We Christians of today need encouraging words, too. Think of several people you know who could use an encouraging word. Perhaps someone you know is ill, or homebound, or is enduring a loss of some kind. Perhaps someone you know is having a hard time at school or at home. Say a prayer for each person on your list. Ask Jesus to bless each one with encouragement.
Then choose one, the one you think most in need of an encouraging word. On a piece of notepaper, write to that person. First pray for a moment, then write what comes to mind. Put the note in an envelope, address it, and then mail it. Or, deliver it in person. You have become like the writer of the First Letter to the Thessalonians, a person of encouragement. You have become a bearer of good news!
Up a TreeOn separate paper, draw a large "cartoon-style" tree, with a large trunk and a large round or cloud-like "treetop." In the treetop, write all the things that are "driving you up a tree"?your problems, your worries, your concerns, even the names of people you cannot seem to understand or get along with at this time.
On the trunk of the tree, write, "Come to my house, Lord Jesus." Hang your tree where you can see it every day. Each time you see it, focus on one of the problems in your treetop. Then pray, "I am having a problem with ______, but I give it to you. Come to my house, Lord Jesus." Life is seldom problem-free, but Jesus with us gives us strength and en-courage-ment.
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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