June 17th, 2012 (see other dates)
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Discussion Questions for Reading 1
If someone says "I have grown in faith" what does that mean? What characteristics would you expect to see? How would you assume the person had changed?
When do you find it difficult to be inclusive? What can you do to be more open?
Reading 1 Ezekiel 17:22-24
Reading 1 Reflection
This passage from the prophet Ezekiel follows a warning to Israel about their unfaithfulness. Now the prophet offers comfort from the Lord God. Unlike the eagles -- the rulers -- before, the Lord God will care for Israel and it will flourish. The passage is very much like Jesus' image of the Kingdom of God as mustard seed. Ezekiel recounts that God says the shoot he will plant will grow into a great cedar tree and all the birds will live beneath it. Our God is a God of growth and of inclusivity. We might reflect on our own growth in faith this past year. Part of that growth will surely be our greater willingness to be inclusive of others -- especially those who are not like us.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2
Paul writes about the courage that faith gives him. Does faith make you courageous? He writes that "we walk by faith, not by sight." When have you walked by faith and not by sight? Paul also reminds the Corinthians that we will each be judged by Christ. Do you read that as a comfort or a warning?
Reading 2 2Corinthians 5:6-10
Reading 2 Reflection
Saint Paul continues to encourage the community at Corinth. In this chapter, Paul reminds the people of their destiny: eternity with God in Heaven. While he emphasizes the desirability of this eternal happiness, Paul quickly declares that it is about pleasing the Lord "whether we are at home or away." It is good to remember that our true home is Heaven. Yet, like Paul, we must also realize that this life is where we are and where we can please the Lord with our faithfulness and our compassion and service to others.
Discussion Questions for Gospel
What do you think Jesus wanted to teach the disciples about the Kingdom of God?
Which of the two images speaks best to you? How would you explain the Kingdom of God to someone who asks about it?
Gospel Mark 4:26-34
In this Gospel passage Jesus presents two images for the Kingdom of God. One is the seed which is scattered on the land. But the one who scattered the seed does nothing further to ensure growth; yet is grows. The second image is the mustard seed which is tiny but somehow it becomes the largest plant with room in its branches for the birds to find shade. The Kingdom of God is never what we might expect; it does not follow "the rules" that society may have. People who live by Kingdom values do not follow society's ways. We are to be countercultural as Jesus was: embracing the outcast, proclaiming God's love for all, offering healing and reconciliation. And always we are given the grace to act as his disciples.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
The Mustard Seed
Read Mark 4: 30-32 about the mustard seed. Have children draw pictures of plant that grows. Talk about the plant having room for all the birds. Discuss how disciples of Jesus make room for other people and welcome them.
Talk about people the children know who are courageous -- who are heroes. Discuss how faith can strengthen us to do what is right. Write a prayer together asking Jesus for the courage to be his disciples. Pray the prayer together.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
The Kingdom of God
Complete the statement, "The Kingdom of God is like..." Expand on your image to teach about the Kingdom.
Who are the "outcasts" in your parish or community or neighborhood? It may be poor people or homeless people, unwed mothers, gay people, etc.What outreach does your parish have to those who are in some way "outcasts?" Participate in this outreach or plan and carry out one of your own.
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