Proclaiming Faith


"Do Not Complain"

December 15th, 2013 (see other dates)

Third Sunday of Advent




Discussion Questions for Reading 1

It is very tempting to give in to fear, and there seem to be no lack of good reasons for being fearful. However, Jesus told us many times, "Do not be afraid." Why do you think he told us this many times? What is Jesus calling us to? (Note: lack of fear does not mean being reckless with our lives or the lives of others.) Imagine yourself going through life full of fear. What would you be like as a person? How would you act? Now imagine yourself going through life with trust in God. What would you be like? How would you act? Does trust in God mean that nothing sad or tragic would ever happen to you or to someone in your family? What does it mean for you?

Is there someone you know who might need to hear this Advent message, "Be strong, fear not! Here is your God!" today? How could you share this message?

Reading 1 Isaiah 35:1-6, 10

Reading 1 Reflection

Sometimes when we are in trouble or in danger, our hands shake and our knees feel like jello. But if we could hear a firm and friendly voice saying, "Be strong, fear not! Here is your God," we would be better able to endure whatever came our way. The prophet in today's reading wants God's people to know that God will deliver them from their troubles. Sorrow and sickness and fear will all be left behind as the people joyfully follow the Lord.

Discussion Questions for Reading 2

The word "patience" comes from a word that means "to suffer." This gives us the idea that patience is not always easy! Here the apostle James urges us to be patient with ourselves ("Steady your hearts"), others, and even with the Lord. It is, after all, his kingdom that seems so slow in coming! How are you called to be patient with yourself this Advent? with others? with God? You might also reflect on ways God and others are being patient with you!

Reading 2 James 5:7-10

Reading 2 Reflection

If you have ever planted a garden, you know how patient a farmer must be. Once the seed is planted, the farmer can only tend it carefully and wait. Complaining about the weather or judging the people who sold him or her the seeds will not make the harvest come any faster.

As we celebrate Advent and look forward to Christ's coming again, we, too, must be patient and avoid judging one another. The kingdom of God grows slowly, day by day, around us and within us.

Discussion Questions for Gospel

In our American culture, we have all kinds of heroes. We have sports heroes. We have movie stars and TV stars. We might even say we have pretend heroes and real-life heroes. The people of Jesus' time were looking for heroes, too. So they asked Jesus, "Are you the real one?" The Gospel lists some actions of Jesus, the actions of a real-life hero. What are the actions you look for in a real-life hero? How are these actions like the actions of Jesus?

Gospel Matthew 11:2-11

Gospel Reflection

When he wants to assure John the Baptist that he truly is the Messiah, Jesus quotes passages from the book of Isaiah. These passages picture the time of the Messiah as marked by the same kind of works that Jesus is doing. Jesus heals the blind, the lame, the deaf, and the lepers. He raises the dead and proclaims the good news to the poor. These loving deeds are proof of his identity.

Because John has opened people's hearts to the Savior's coming, Jesus says that John is the greatest of the prophets. We, too, can be like John, and as Jesus said, even greater than John, when we share Jesus' mission of making God's kingdom come.

Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades

Make A Loving Heart

Remind the children that the whole season of Advent is about waiting for Jesus to come into our lives and into our hearts. It is about calmly waiting for Christmas. Of course, we do not sit and wait and do nothing else. Explain to the group that, while we wait, we get ready for Jesus by living as Jesus taught us.

Distribute the reproducible master. On the heart, have the children list what they are waiting for during the season of Advent?whether it be a certain gift at Christmas or peace in the world. After they have finished, close with this or a similar prayer: "Lord, help us to wait calmly. Help us to work for peace and justice as we wait for Christmas with warm and loving hearts. Amen."

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is completely missing from the liturgical calendar this year, because when a feast falls on a Sunday, the celebration of the Sunday takes precedence. However, you might like to mention the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the children. If possible, hold up a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe as you explain that she is the patroness of  "the Americas,"which includes Mexico, Central America, South America, and North America. A traditional way of celebrating the feast is by going to Mass in the morning and having hot chocolate and sweet rolls afterwards. You may want to have available paper cups and chocolate milk. Celebrate both Sunday and Our Lady of Guadalupe by having a chocolate milk break together!


Proclaiming Faith Activities

Making a Desert Bloom

The first reading tells us that "the desert. . . will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song." Choose one or more of these desert projects to do, either alone or with family and friends. Describe how you will make the desert bloom during Advent.

My Advent Desert Projects

  • Someone is all alone and lonely and "hates to see Christmas coming." How can you make the Advent desert bloom for this person?
My desert bloom plan is. . .

  • The directors of a group collecting and repairing toys for poor children are frustrated because they lack volunteers.
My desert bloom plan is. . .

  • A vacant lot, a park, or a garden is "going to seed" for lack of care.
My desert bloom plan is. . .

  • Someone in your family or among your friends is going through a difficult time.
My desert bloom plan is. . .

Thanking Your Messengers

John the Baptist served as God's messenger by paving the way for Jesus' coming. The angel Gabriel served as God's messenger by announcing to Mary that she would be the mother of the Savior. Spend some time recalling who God's messengers have been in your life.

Ask yourself: who has given me the following messages?

  • "You are lovable and precious in my eyes."
         Parent? Grandparent?

  • "Jesus is the greatest friend you could ever have."

    Youth minister? Teacher? Friend? Parish staff member?

 

  • "Be glad you have faith. It is a great gift."

    Priest? Teacher? Relative? Friend?

 

  • "You are a talented and worthwhile person."

    Teacher? Coach? Parent? Grandparent? Friend?

 

  • "The Church needs young people like you."

    Priest? Teacher? Parish staff member?

Write a thank-you note to one or more of these messengers in your life. Then decide when you will send your note.




For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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