August 17th, 2014 (see other dates)
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Why do people discriminate against others? Is it fear or ignorance or pride that keeps people from seeing others the way God sees them? What can we do to help those who may be from a different race or culture feel welcome in our parish, our school, our community? Pray the opening prayer as you ask that God's criteria for accepting others may become your criteria: Lord, help me keep my heart open to all your people.
Reading 1 Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Reading 1 ReflectionIn the first reading Isaiah points out that God intends salvation to be available for all persons. God does not make distinctions based on ethnicity, social class, or economic standing. The prophet affirms that in God's eyes, believing in the Lord and keeping God's commandments are what really matter. These are the criteria by which we will be judged. The joy of God's kingdom awaits all who are faithful.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2Paul's attitude is a good example of how God can turn bad situations into fruitful opportunities. It also shows how important it is to believe in a positive outcome! All too often we only see the loss, the tragedy, the difficulty, the barrier. Are you able to look at a difficult situation and see the potential for good that is there? What can we do to cultivate a more positive attitude in our own lives, within our families, with our colleagues?
Reading 2 Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Reading 2 ReflectionThe second reading also speaks about discrimination. The first members of the Church were Jews who were unwilling to accept non-Jews into the Church. St. Paul reminds them that he is the "apostle to the Gentiles." The discriminating attitude of the early members paved the way for Paul to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. It also enabled the Gentiles to respond more easily without the influence of the Jewish culture. Paul hoped that his ministry to the Gentiles would provoke the other members of the Church to a resurgence of their faith.
Discussion Questions for GospelThe Canaanite woman was a marginalized person in the society of Jesus' time, because of her gender, her race, and her religious practice. Have you ever experienced rejection because of your gender, race, or religion? How did you deal with it? Have you ever been asked for help by someone of another race or culture? How have you responded? How are women in particular treated in today's society? Jesus' attitude towards the Canaanite woman is one that all should imitate, his acceptance of her, as both a woman and a foreigner.
Gospel Matthew 15:21-28
Gospel ReflectionIn the gospel reading, Jesus meets up with a very determined Canaanite woman who begs him to help her troubled daughter. Since the woman was a Gentile, the apostles wanted to send her away, but Jesus continued to speak with her. Besides her great faith and courage, the woman also showed tremendous love for her child. She was willing to risk rejection for breaking through the barriers of convention to ask for help. She truly believed that Jesus could help her daughter, and despite what seemed like his initial reluctance, she simply wasn't going to give up. She persisted, even begging him. Eventually Jesus praised her undaunting faith and healed her daughter. Jesus' reply is one we would all love to hear: "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done as you wish."
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Colorful NecklacesTalk with the children about similarities and differences of people. People look different, they are of different nationalities, they speak different languages, they eat different foods, and so on. Explain that God created all people, with similarities and differences, and we are all his children.
Make a colorful necklace. Provide children with a long piece of thin ribbon and various colored pony beads. Have them string beads of each of the colors on the ribbon, then tie the ends together to form a necklace. Explain that the pony beads on the necklace are all the same shape, yet the beads are all different colors. They come together to make a beautiful necklace. If some of the colors had been left out, the necklace would have looked differently and would not have been as beautiful. Stress with the children that we all have similarities and differences, but we are all God's children.
Take a Closer LookPrepare a magnifying glass by reproducing the pattern on tag board. Cut out the center and replace with clear cellophane. Make another magnifying glass with colored cellophane.
Invite one child to come forward. Have the children look through the clear magnifying glass at this child and describe what makes him special. Then have the children look at this same child through the magnifying glass with the colored cellophane. Ask them again what makes this child special. Explain that even though he or she appears to be a different color, this does not change what makes this child special.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
A Welcome TablePlan a hospitality event in your school or parish. Invite members of different cultures to explain their customs and traditions, dress, music, and food. Have samples of the different foods available for all to enjoy together after the presentations.
Promoting AcceptanceAs a group, plan an effective message to promote acceptance of others. You may want to design a banner, a T-shirt, or an email message. Organize a plan on where, when, and how to communicate the message. After the project has been completed, evaluate its effectiveness.
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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