Do not be afraid
December 21st, 2014 (see other dates)
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Why do we call churches "the house of God?" What are the meanings of the word "dwell?" Where else does God dwell? How does David show his deep respect for God? How does showing respect for our churches show respect for God? Why do you feel that church is a very special place to be?
Reading 1 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16
Reading 1 ReflectionThis first reading tells about King David of Israel, an ancestor of Jesus. David did great things for his people; he established his capital in Jerusalem and brought there the Ark of the Covenant. The ark contained the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments and was kept in a tent that was considered the "house" of God. David felt ashamed to be living in a palace while the ark of God was kept in a tent. He wished to build a house for God, but instead God promised that David's rule and family would last forever: "Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me."
We should share David's respect for God and place the concerns of God before our own. Jesus himself came homeless into the world; there was no room for him in the inn at Bethlehem. Let us make room for him in our hearts this Christmas.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2What is this "mystery hidden for many ages?" How is this mystery finally revealed or manifested? To whom does St. Paul say the mystery is made known? What are some of the comings of Jesus into our lives? How can we keep Jesus at the center of our Christmas celebration? What are some distractions that surround Christmas in our world today?
Reading 2 Romans 16:25-27
Reading 2 ReflectionIn this reading Saint Paul praises God for at last revealing Jesus Christ through the prophets and the gospel to all believers and to people of all nations. Let us praise and thank God for the priceless gift of faith in Jesus Christ, "the mystery kept secret for long ages." Let us welcome Jesus with deep faith at his birth among us and at all his "comings" into our lives.
Discussion Questions for GospelMary does not understand all that God was asking of her. What is the sentence in Luke's gospel that tells us this? What three comforting words did the angel speak to her? What did Mary respond to the angel that says she was willing to do God's will? How can we listen to God who speaks to us in different ways?
Gospel Luke 1:26-38
Gospel ReflectionIn today's reading about the annunciation, an angel tells Mary that she is to be the mother of Jesus. The angel recalls the prophecy to David that we saw in the first reading. "The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary does not understand this great mystery but accepts God's will humbly: "I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me . . . ."
There may be times when God will ask of us things we do not completely understand. Mary's openness to God's will can help us. We should pray lovingly and gratefully to Mary for the blessings she helps bring to us.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Yes, LordRead the Gospel to the children. Then select children to portray Mary, Elizabeth, and Angel Gabriel. Have the children act out the Gospel reading.
Caring MothersMary said "yes" to God to be the mother of Jesus. Discuss with the children what it must have been like for Mary to care for the infant Jesus. Then explain that having and caring for a baby today is also very important and challenging. Have the children bring in items needed to care for newborn babies such as diapers, nearly new clothing, bibs, blankets, etc. Collect these and distribute to women?s shelters, homes for unwed mothers, or parishioners in need.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Designing a ReminderThe readings today use the word "House" to mean the place where God dwells, and also to mean "family."
Print a sign or banner that mentions the family or ancestors of Jesus named in today?s readings, followed by your own ancestors and the names of your own parents or family members. Use as a title "God Dwells Here." You can use last names or first names, or both. E.g.,
GOD DWELLS HERE
House and Family of David
House and Family of Jacob and Rachael
House and Family of Mary and Joseph
House and Family of ___________________________________
House and Family of ___________________________________
Show this to your family or hang it up for the rest of Advent to remind everyone that God Dwells Here.
God Is With MeRead the greeting of the angel Gabriel to Mary from today's gospel. God addresses Mary as the "favored" one and says, "The Lord is with you." Imagine the angel Gabriel coming to you and saying these words. How would they apply to you? In what ways are you a "favored one?" In what ways is God with you?
Write the "Hail Mary" with plenty of space between the lines. Find phrases from today's gospel that inspired the church to compose this prayer which honors Mary?s role in the coming of Jesus. Write these gospel phrases between the lines.
WRAP IT UP!Draw some sample gift tags. If you were giving your family or friend a one sentence prayer for a gift, what would that prayer be? Put the person?s name on the tag and begin the prayer for him or her with the words, "Dear God?" You may wish to show it to the person named, or actually write it on a card or gift tag for them at Christmas. A handmade gift tag is good for this.
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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