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This Week's Liturgy


Hearts

September 2nd, 2012 (see other dates)

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time




Discussion Questions for Reading 1

What are some of the rules that are observed in your family? How do these rules make a difference in your relationships with family members? Why do you think God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments? What might have happened to them in the Promised Land if they did not have the Commandments?

Why does Moses instruct the people not to "add or subtract" from God's law? What would you say to a friend who told you that he or she did not accept one or more of the Ten Commandments?

Reading 1 Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8

Reading 1 Reflection

Some people cringe when they see words like "laws" and "commandments." They see regulations of any kind as a burden. However, as Moses prepares to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, he reminds them of the true purpose of God's commandments. By obeying God's law, the people will live in harmony with him and with each other. Other nations will marvel at their wisdom and envy their close relationship with God.

The Commandments and God's law of love are to be cherished and obeyed by all believers. We do not pick and choose which commands are easy for us to follow. Out of love, we observe the whole law that God has given us.

Discussion Questions for Reading 2

What advice would you give to a friend who said, "As soon as I leave after Mass, I forget what the readings and the homily were all about"? Why do you think some people rarely act on the word of God that they have heard proclaimed at Mass? How can lectors and homilists help people to become doers of the word?

Name one way you will act on the word of God communicated in Saint James' letter today.

Reading 2 James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27

Reading 2 Reflection

At every Mass we hear the word of the Lord proclaimed. But if the word we hear does not get translated into action, it is like a seed that gets blown away rather than planted in good soil. Saint James reminds us in his letter that we are to be doers of the word, not just hearers. Those who take the word of God to heart and act on it will care for orphans and widows, the poor and the homeless, the hungry and the sick.

True worship is not a matter of simply going to Mass or saying prayers. It is a matter of acting on the word that has been planted in us by God.

Discussion Questions for Gospel

What character in a comic strip, a TV show, or a movie can you think of who acted like a hypocrite in some way? Tell how he or she acted. Why does Jesus call the religious leaders in today's story hypocrites? Find one statement that summarizes his complaint against them.

How would you explain why having a good heart is more important than giving God "lip service"? What are some of the things Jesus says comes from within people? What sacrament can help us to know the difference between just following the rules and following Jesus?

Gospel Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Gospel Reflection

The word "hypocrite" comes from an ancient Greek term meaning "actor." In today's gospel story, Jesus accuses the religious leaders of being hypocrites. They act as though they are speaking for God but they are really speaking about what matters to them. Jesus points out that they are more concerned about pious practices than they are about God's commandments. They criticized Jesus' disciples for not washing their hands before eating. But they showed no interest in the goodness of the disciples' hearts.

Jesus teaches that religious rules and regulations should never become more important than God's people. He wants us to understand that our outward behavior should reflect what is in our hearts. A good heart will not produce evil actions. Nor will washing our hands make us clean inside where it really counts.

Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades

Doers of the Word

Make a window box. Use a purchased window box or an empty, decorated shoebox. Fill this with birdseed. For flowers for the window box, have children cut flower shapes from construction paper and glue onto Popsicle sticks. St. James tells us to be doers of the Word and not just hearers. Write ways to live the word of God on the flowers. Place the flowers in the window box. (The birdseed will keep them standing up.) Each week, pick a flower and read what it says. Have the children do what is written on the flower all week. The next week, replace the flower and pick a new one.

What’s In Your Heart?

Give each child a heart with the words, Concern for others, Honesty, Unselfishness, Patience, and Faith in Jesus, written on it. Then provide them with puzzle pieces that make up the heart. Have them write one thing they can do to show each of the things written on the heart. Encourage children to perform the tasks written on the puzzle pieces. As they do the things they wrote, have them glue that puzzle piece on the heart. When the heart is complete, have them bring it home and place it somewhere special to remind them that our actions should reflect what is in our hearts.


Proclaiming Faith Activities

Welcoming the Word

Saint James invites us to welcome the word that God has planted in us. With your partner or group, brainstorm ways people can truly hear and live the word of God that is proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word.

Design a series of posters with simple illustrations and slogans that will help people in your parish to welcome the word.

Examining the Heart

Jesus reminds us that what really matters to God is what comes out of the human heart. Use the following questions to examine your own heart. For each question, write one way you will show what is in your heart.

1) Do I have unselfishness in my heart? How will I show it? ____________________________________ 

2) Do I have concern for others in my heart? How will I show it? ________________________________

3) Do I have honesty in my heart? How will I show it? ________________________________________

4) Do I have patience in my heart? How will I show it?_________________________________________

5) Do I have faith in Jesus in my heart? How will I show it? _____________________________________


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