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This Week's Liturgy

"Welcome One Another"

December 8th, 2013 (see other dates)

Second Sunday of Advent

Discussion Questions for Reading 1

We believe that the bud blossoming from the stump of Jesse is Jesus. The beautiful Christmas carol "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" is based on the first verse of this reading. Jesus came to us at Bethlehem; now we look for him to come at the end of time. Yet how can we be eager for his coming, knowing that he will judge us? Have you ever felt judged by someone, perhaps judged wrongly? This will not happen with Jesus: "Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide." Jesus urges us not to judge others: how can we leave the judging to Jesus, especially during Advent? Re-read this passage, and look for your favorite "word-pictures of peace and justice." Write them down on an index card. Place the card where you will see it each day this week.

This is the last verse of "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming." It is not often sung. Perhaps you would like to make it your prayer during Advent:

O Savior, child of Mary,

Who felt our human woe,

O Savior, king of glory,

Who dost our weakness know,

Bring us at length, we pray,

To the bright courts of heaven,

And to the endless day.

Reading 1 Isaiah 11:1-10

Reading 1 Reflection

If a nature show on TV depicted wolves playing with lambs, cows and bears living next door to each other, and a little baby romping with a deadly serpent, what would you think? These unnatural events might make you think you had tuned into a science fiction program! Or you might wonder whether you were dreaming.

Isaiah describes the peace that the Messiah will bring by reversing the hostile elements of nature. The prophet dreams of the day when God's reign of justice and peace is established over all creation. That blessed event will become a reality at the end of the world when Jesus comes again in glory. Consider how you will begin to share now in Isaiah's vision by helping enemies to become friends.

Discussion Questions for Reading 2

"Accept one another, then, as Christ accepted you." When does Christ accept you? How does Christ accept you? How do you show acceptance of others? When are you tempted not to accept others? What "walls" do you build at these times? How can you plan to take just one wall down in the coming week?

Acceptance of others does not mean we must agree with everything they do. When we accept and love others as Christ does, we accept and love their true selves, even if we cannot agree with their decisions. Sometimes, for our good and theirs, we have to separate ourselves from the actions (and sometimes the friendship and companionship) of others. For example, the prodigal father did not leave his farm to follow his wayward son. But he waited with open arms and open heart for the son to return. What can you do or say to show acceptance and love for someone who is following a dangerous or self-destructive path? How can you keep from following down that path yourself?

Reading 2 Romans 15:4-9

Reading 2 Reflection

Just as the first reading painted a picture of harmony, this reading reminds us that Jesus came to unite all people under God's mercy and love. Sometimes we find it easier to wall people out than to welcome them in. But Paul points out that we can find encouragement and guidance in God's word.

Discussion Questions for Gospel

John the Baptist seems to be a believer in the saying, "Actions speak louder than words." He tells the religious leaders of his day, "Give some evidence that you mean to reform."

John wanted everyone to be ready for the Messiah: no excuses!

How are you getting ready for the Messiah? Are your actions of justice, peace, and love speaking loud and clear as you prepare for Christmas? Are you really a follower of Christ or are you just jumping on the Advent-Christmas bandwagon? (A bandwagon is a wagon or "float" that carries the band in a parade. Someone who "jumps on the bandwagon" wants to be in the parade but doesn't want to do the hard walking. He or she just wants to ride along with the band and enjoy the music!) Take a few quiet moments and ask Saint John the Baptist to suggest something just, peaceful, and loving that you could do to prepare to celebrate Christmas as a true follower of Christ. Give some evidence that you mean to be ready! (You may want to join with a partner to do something special. The more the merrier!)

Gospel Matthew 3:1-12

Gospel Reflection

John the Baptist was one of those preachers who did not mind stepping on people's toes?even those of the rich and powerful. His mission was to get people to repent and be baptized before the Messiah arrived. John warns the religious leaders of his time that they must produce good fruit as proof of their conversion.

Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades

We Pray for Peace

Read aloud the first few lines of today's reading from the Prophet Isaiah. Ask the children to listen especially for the animals the prophet mentions. Explain that the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the "kid" (baby goat), the young lion and the calf are opposite kinds of animals (wild and farm animals). When these two kinds of animals get along together, and stay side by side together, then we will know that peace is here! We pray for this kind of peace to come into our world.

The reproducible master shows the lion and the lamb, a picture that is found on many Christmas cards to depict peace.  Invite the children to color the page. Help them to complete the prayer for peace. "Dear God, we pray for peace."

Saint John the Baptist

Explain to the children: In our gospel today, we hear John the Baptist telling people to get ready for Jesus. This is what we do during Advent. We get ready for Jesus. Tell the children that Saint John the Baptist was Jesus' cousin. Ask them: Do you have cousins? If so, do they live nearby or far away? Do your cousins visit often? Do you play together when they come?

In honor of Saint John the Baptist and Jesus, invite the children to say a prayer now for all our own cousins. Say, "Let us pray that we and our cousins and friends and relatives and all people will be ready for Jesus, today and always." (You may have a moment of silence, or ask the children to say names of cousins aloud.)

Proclaiming Faith Activities

Finding the Right Words

We often avoid writing notes, letters, or e-mails because we cannot find the right words to say what we want to say. The second reading tells us that the Bible is a treasure chest filled with "right words" for every purpose.

Think for a moment about a relative who works too much or a friend who wants revenge against an enemy. Maybe you know someone who feels lonely or left out or a friend who is worried about success in school.

Write a note or e-mail using one of the following scripture messages to encourage or help one of these people.

  • "Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh." (Luke 6:21)
  • "Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find." (Luke 11:9)
  • "Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
  • "I am with you always." (Matthew 28:20)
  • "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)
Write your note on a separate piece of paper. You may want to decorate it or make a border around it. If you are sending it by e-mail, how could you make your message unique and attractive?

Producing Good Fruit

Draw a rectangular shape on a sheet of paper. This will serve as your sign.

On it, illustrate with symbols and slogans the good fruit you hope to produce in the remaining week of Advent. Here are a few deed ideas to start with:

  • With friends, plan a gift for Mother Earth.
  • Use a talent for family or friends.
  • Spend time with someone who is lonely or feels neglected.
  • Give more attention to prayer and liturgy.
Illustrate your sign with apples and oranges (traditional fruits at Christmas) and

even a pineapple, symbol of hospitality. Your good fruit is spiritual hospitality!

For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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