That They May Be One
May 12th, 2013 (see other dates)
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Discussion Questions for Reading 1First notice the "young man named Saul." He helped put Stephen to death by watching the coats of the stone-throwers. Today we would call him "an accessory to murder." Saul later converted to Christianity and became known as Paul, the great apostle and writer of the many letters we hear each Sunday. We call him "Saint Paul." What does this tell you about God's forgiveness? What does this tell you about the possibility of change for the better in human life?
What were Stephen's last two prayers? How do they compare with the last prayers from the cross that Jesus himself prayed? (See Luke 23:34 and 46.) How does this show you that Stephen was a true disciple of Jesus?
How can you speak up for Jesus Christ in your own life? When can you pray the prayers of Saint Stephen in your own life?
Reading 1 Acts 7:55-60
Reading 1 ReflectionPicture the scene. A daring young man is surrounded by people who want to shut him up for good. His name is Stephen. He is a deacon who serves the needy of the Christian community at Jerusalem. Those who do not accept Jesus drag Stephen out of town and stone him to death. But they do not defeat him. Stephen, the Church's first martyr, imitates Jesus by asking God to forgive his murderers.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2This reading is full of symbolism. The voice is the voice of Jesus, and he identifies himself in many different ways. The Church, too, is identified in many different ways. Christians, too, are identified by symbols. Let us look at each symbol in order to "dig out" the rich meaning of this passage.
Christians: they who wash their robes (are baptized) and have the right to the tree of life (the life of grace) and enter the city (the Church, and also the heavenly city). Those who "thirst" may come and accept the gift of life-giving water (Baptism).
Jesus: Jesus says that he is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. (Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the Last.) He is called the Root of David (the great king of Israel) and Offspring of David. Jesus is the Son of David and thus is an heir to the kingdom of Israel. He is the bright Morning Star (the brightest star in the sky at dawn). He can be found easily by anyone who is looking for him!
The Church: The Church is symbolized by the city and also by the Bride. A bride is loved very much by the groom and is committed for life to the groom, and he is committed to her. The Church is a bride because Jesus loves us and we are his forever. And he is ours forever!
Choose your favorite symbol for Jesus from this passage. Make up a one-line prayer and say it often this week. For example: "Jesus, Morning Star, show me the way to love more." Remember that the Spirit is praying in you, because you are part of the Bride, the Church, the city of God. The Spirit and the Bride say "Come, Lord Jesus!"
Reading 2 Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20
Reading 2 ReflectionIn this reading from the closing chapter of the Book of Revelation, we hear Jesus repeating his promise to come again at the end of time. He will reward those who have been faithful. When will Jesus come? We do not know, because God's time is not our time. But we make the words of Revelation our prayer each day by saying: Come, Lord Jesus!
Discussion Questions for GospelHow does it feel to know that Jesus was praying for you? How can you show today that you have the spirit of unity? We know that today there are differing beliefs among the various religions of the world, and differing beliefs even among Christians. How can we make a contribution to unity? Think of ways the following might help: love, respect, dialogue, study, prayer.
You might like to research the history behind the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement (Graymoor Friars) began this custom of praying for the unity of Christians on the eight days between the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on January 25 and the feast of Saint Peter's Chair on February 2. You can begin by finding their Web site at www.atonementfriars.org. Click on "Ecumenism" and then "Week of Prayer" and "Week of Prayer History."
Gospel John 17:20-26
Gospel ReflectionToday we are listening in on Jesus' prayer to the Father at the Last Supper. His voice communicates deep emotion as he prays for his friends?then and now. What Jesus wants most is unity?unity among all believers, and unity between believers and God. "That they may be one, as we are one," he prays.
Jesus' prayer reminds us that if the love of God is truly alive in us, the proof of that love will be in our unity with others. Divisions among Christians are a sign that we still have much work to do.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Hunting for SymbolsThe reading from Revelations is filled with symbolism. There are many symbols associated with our Catholic faith. Take the children to church and have them hunt for symbols. Some to include are a cross or crucifix, candles, stations of the cross, etc. Discuss the meaning behind these symbols.
Stephen's StoryRead the story of Stephen found in Chapters 6 and 7 of Acts of the Apostles. Retell this story to the children in your own words. On a large piece of white construction paper, write the following prayer to St. Stephen.
Dear St. Stephen,
Each day you showed your love for Christ,
By helping those in need.
And even in the face of death,
You lived the Christian creed.
Pray for us, St. Stephen,
That we may be like you.
And witness to the love of Christ,
In all we say and do.
Have children make a border of brown "stone" thumbprints around this prayer to remind them of the type of death St. Stephen suffered.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
A Prayer for UnityAt the Last Supper, Jesus prayed "that all may be one." He made that prayer not only with his voice but with his life, which he laid down for all people. Jesus continues to want unity. Join him now by completing this prayer and by living in a spirit of unity. Fill in the blanks with appropriate words and names. Suggestions are in italics. Think of other possibilities!
and pray for them.)
How can you live this prayer?
Imitating Saint StephenWe honor Saint Stephen as a martyr, or witness. He knew that believing in Christ would be dangerous, but he could not live any other way. He was filled with courage and had strength because of his faith. Stephen acted like Christ right to the end of his life. Even as he was bring hurt, he said, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."
Complete the following statements in the spirit of Saint Stephen.
When I find it difficult to forgive someone who has hurt me, I will:
When I am unhappy that I didn?t do as well as I wanted, I will:
When it is not easy to live according to the teachings of my faith, I will:
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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