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This Week's Liturgy

"This saying is hard"

August 23th, 2015 (see other dates)

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Discussion Questions for Reading 1

How do you think Joshua, like Moses before him, shows that he is a wise leader? Why is it important for people to make their own choices about serving God? Why do the Israelites choose to remain faithful to God?

In our society, there are many values and beliefs that go against our belief in God and in what God teaches. What examples can you give of these values and beliefs? In what ways do you choose to serve the Lord rather than the false "gods" of greed, violence, dishonesty, or selfishness?

Reading 1 Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b

Reading 1 Reflection

Parents sometimes use "reverse psychology" to encourage their children to make the right choices. That is what Joshua, the new leader of the Israelites, does in this reading. He wants them to make a firm commitment to serve God alone. So he tells them that they can choose to serve other gods. However, he insists that he and his family will remain faithful to the one God who brought the Israelites out of slavery.

By reminding the people of all God has done for them, Joshua guides the tribes of Israel to be faithful to the Lord. When we remember all that God has done for us, we too renew our faith in the God who saves us.

Discussion Questions for Reading 2

What are some of the ways you have observed Christian husbands and wives showing their love for each other? How do they show that they are "subordinate" or subject to each other's authority "out of reverence for Christ"? What do you think are the most important qualities for a Christian husband and wife to have?

How has Jesus shown his love for the Church? In what ways has he demonstrated how marriage partners and family members are to love one another?

Reading 2 Ephesians 5:21-32

Reading 2 Reflection

If Saint Paul had any idea how much confusion his letter to the Ephesians might cause centuries after it was composed, he might have re-written it. His primary message is that the relationship between Christ and his Church is like a human marriage. Husbands and wives are "made into one," just as Christ and his Church are one body. Marriage partners are called by God to show mutual love, respect and care. In doing so, they reflect the love Jesus has for all who follow him.

When husbands and wives choose to make sacrifices for each other and their children out of love, they are acting like Jesus who sacrificed himself out of love for his Church.

Discussion Questions for Gospel

What disagreements, if any, about religious beliefs, have you ever had with your friends? Why is it sometimes difficult to practice our religious beliefs when others do not share them? How would you describe the way Jesus responds to the disciples who turn away from him? How does he show how important his teaching on the Eucharist is?

What teachings of Jesus have you had difficulties with at times? Who or what helped you to work out those difficulties? How would you describe Peter's answer to Jesus' question about leaving him? Name one way people your age can show the kind of faith in Jesus expressed by Peter.

Gospel John 6:60-69

Gospel Reflection

What a sad day it would be if some of our friends suddenly turned against us because of our religious beliefs. Today's gospel story relates how many of Jesus' disciples left him. They could not accept his teaching that he himself was the Bread of Life. They could not believe that his Body and Blood were the source of eternal life. So they turned their backs on him and returned to their old way of life.

However, when Jesus asked the Twelve if they too would abandon him, Peter replied, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." We too at times may find some of Jesus' teachings difficult. When that happens, we speak to him honestly in prayer and seek his help.

Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades

Our God Has Done Great Things for Us

In the first reading, Joshua has the people of Israel make a choice between whom they will serve. The people choose to serve God, listing the many good things that he has done for them.

God has done good things for us, too. Discuss with the children some of the good things God has done for them. Then provide paper, crayons and markers. Encourage the children to illustrate or write about some of the things that God has done for them. Gather these pages together and place them in a binder to create a class book. On the cover of the binder, write "Our God Has Done Great Things for Us."

Building Church

Build a class church with ways to serve the Lord. Brainstorm with the children ways to serve the Lord. Write these on construction paper bricks. Each day, select one brick, read what is on it and do that activity. Place that brick on the outline of the church. Watch as the church is built with ways to serve the Lord.

Proclaiming Faith Activities

Acting Out

Saint Paul compares human marriage to the marriage of Christ to his Church. Each of these "marriages" is based on mutual love and sacrifice. To illustrate Paul's message, act out the following "What if . . .?" scenarios.

1) What if husbands had to make all the decisions in a marriage?

2) What if wives had to make all the decisions in a marriage?

3) What if marriage partners were not willing to make any sacrifices out of love for each other?

4) What if marriage partners both try to love each other and their children as Jesus loves his Church?

Responding to Jesus

When his disciples could not accept Jesus' teaching about the Eucharist, he asked the Twelve, "Do you want to leave me too?"

Write an e-mail message responding to Jesus' question. Speak to him as you would to a friend who had been rejected by others.

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