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This Week's Liturgy

Mary, we praise you. You have found favor with God.

December 8th, 2012 (see other dates)

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (solemnity, holy day of obligation)

Discussion Questions for Reading 1

Mary is often pictured stepping on a serpent. The serpent represents evil, and this image comes from the reading from Genesis for today.

The emotion of shame is one of the earliest and most human of our emotions. It's that feeling of wanting to hide, of feeling boxed in. It is related to fear—fear of what people might think, fear of punishment, fear that we're not "good enough." All of these are part of the consequences of original sin. Think quietly: When have I felt shame, or fear, or "not being good enough"? These are the "serpents" Mary and her Son Jesus can crush. Mary was preserved from original sin by God's grace. She, by that same grace, can banish shame and fear from our lives if we bring those fears to her. How can you help others to banish fear and shame from their lives?

Reading 1 Genesis 3:9-15, 20

Reading 1 Reflection

In this reading, the author uses the story of Adam and Eve to help us recognize that sin is a very real part of our world. Without God's grace, we too might feel like hiding behind the nearest tree like Adam and Eve did in the story of Genesis. But there is one human being who has been preserved from sin from the first moment of her life. This is Mary, the mother of Jesus. We celebrate her freedom from original sin on this feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Ask Mary to help you recognize your need for God's grace.

Discussion Questions for Reading 2

You were chosen to be holy and full of love even before the world began. What do you think Saint Paul meant by that? What is your response to God's choice of you as his child in Jesus Christ?

Discuss the spiritual blessings you have received from God. How will you share those blessings during Advent?

Reading 2 Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12

Reading 2 Reflection

Just as Mary was chosen from the beginning by God to be "full of grace," we have been chosen to "be holy" and full of love. This letter to the Ephesians helps us to appreciate our privileged identity as Christians. Through Jesus Christ, we are the adopted sons and daughters of God. In him we can see and praise the Father's glory.

Discussion Questions for Gospel

When Mary described herself as the servant of the Lord, she meant it—with no strings attached. What are some ways you can show that you are the servant of the Lord during Advent?

Gospel Luke 1:26-38

Gospel Reflection

Luke lovingly tells the story of the Annunciation. He gives us so much dialogue that we almost feel like eavesdroppers. But even if we cannot remember the exact words of Gabriel and of Mary, we can never forget that this event changed the history of the world. When Mary willingly says, "May it be done to me according to your word", God's plan of salvation opens before our eyes. Jesus, the Son of the Most High, will be born of Mary, and his reign will endure forever.

Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades

A Reenactment

Reenact the Annunciation. Select one child to play the role of Mary and one child to play the role of Gabriel. Read Luke’s Gospel (Luke 1:26-38). As the gospel is read, have children act out the parts. Simple props such as a headdress for Mary and wings and halo for Gabriel may be used if desired.

Mary Said “Yes”

Mary said "Yes" to God. Like Mary, we are all called to say "Yes" to those things that God wants us to do.

Create a special religion bulletin board. On poster paper, draw the word YES in large bubble letters. Cut these out and place on a bulletin board. Take a picture of each student’s face and paste these within the letters. When completed, say the following prayer together as a class:

Mary, you said "Yes" to God. Help us to be like you and say

"Yes" to God, too.

Proclaiming Faith Activities

Writing a Gospel Dialogue

In today's gospel we listen in on a dialogue between the angel Gabriel and Mary. The answers Mary gives God's messenger reveal that she is a courageous young person who is willing to take a great risk. Her love for God and others enables her to say yes to what seems impossible. Imagine that Gabriel brings you a message from God. Complete the following dialogue by imagining how you might respond.

Gabriel: Rejoice, _____________. The Lord is truly with you.

Your response:

Gabriel: Do not fear, ________________. You have been called to help build up the kingdom of God by _____________________. (Fill in what you think he might say.)

Your response:

Gabriel: Nothing is impossible with God.

Your response:

How will you, like Mary, take a faith risk during Advent?

The Blame Game

NOTE: Emphasize the importance of responsibility for our actions as a sign of growing maturity in faith.

According to the Genesis story, when Adam got into trouble with God, he blamed Eve. And when God questioned the woman, she blamed the serpent. Do you sometimes use similar excuses to avoid taking responsibility for your actions? As a Christian, what might you reply in each of these situations?

You were careless with your friend's baseball equipment. You can't remember what you did with that baseball glove. Your friend asks, "Did you lose my baseball glove?"

Your response:

For weeks your religion group planned to work at a soup kitchen on a certain day. The next day your religion teacher asks, "Why didn't you help out at the soup kitchen with the rest of us?"

Your response:

You stayed up late to watch TV before a math test. Later that week, your parent asks, "Why did you get a C on this math test?"

Your response:

Name one way you can grow as a person of honesty and responsibility.

When will you put this into practice?

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