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This Week's Liturgy


Fasting

February 26th, 2006 (see other dates)

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time




Discussion Questions for Reading 1

We know that all marriages do not last forever. What is it that enables the "marriage" between God and his people to last forever? What clues about lasting relationships can you find in this love letter from God? What would you list as the "Top Ten Foundation Stones for a Lasting Marriage" in today's world?

Reading 1 1 Hosea 2:16b,17b,21-22

Reading 1 Reflection

This first reading is a love letter from God to the people of Israel. God is speaking through the prophet Hosea, whose own wife was repeatedly unfaithful to him. Hosea describes God's constant faithfulness in the words, "I will espouse you to me forever." To espouse is to marry someone. God's love is so great that he does not withdraw it even when his "spouse" (Israel) sins against him.

The divine marriage between God and his people is firmly founded on right and justice, love and mercy. It lasts forever.

Discussion Questions for Reading 2

If each of us is a living letter written by the Spirit of God, what message do you hope others "read" when they see you? What are some of the ways in which we communicate what is written in our hearts to others?

Why do you think people sometimes prefer the letter of the law to the spirit of the law? What examples can you give of how people choose to live by the letter rather than the spirit of the law? Consider possible examples of school or family rules, as well as religious laws like the Ten Commandments.

Reading 2 2 Corinthians 3:1b-6

Reading 2 Reflection

Have you ever thought of yourself as a letter from God to those around you? That's the way Paul describes himself and the Christian community at Corinth. He says that neither he nor they need letters of recommendation because they are all living letters written by the Spirit of God. Their hearts are the tablets or writing paper on which the letters of Christ are written.

Paul reminds God's people that the new covenant of Christ has freed us. We live not by the letter of the law which brings death, but by the spirit which brings life.

Discussion Questions for Gospel

In what season of the Church year do we as Catholics fast? After reading this gospel, what do you think Jesus would say about fasting during the Easter season? Why? Why do we fast? Food is an obvious thing to do without in our fasting. What might be some other meaningful ways to fast?
If Jesus were a young person in today's world, what examples do you think he might use to pass on the good news of God's kingdom? Consider examples from computer technology, space exploration, movies, music, and TV.

Gospel Mark 2:18-22

Gospel Reflection

In the first reading God spoke of marrying his people. Now in the gospel story Jesus speaks of himself as the bridegroom. He wants his friends to celebrate and rejoice while he is with them. He is not concerned about fasting simply as a religious law. Jesus teaches his friends that fasting and other religious practices are to be done from the heart out of love.

With his two parables about the cloak and the wineskins, Jesus reminds us that the gospel is good news. It is not "old news." His teaching is like new wine that requires new wineskins. If it is stored in old wineskins, the skins will burst and the wine will be ruined.

Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades

A Mural of Love

In the first reading, Hosea tells of God’s special love for his people. God loves all of us, too. Help the children identify ways that God shows us his love. List these ways on chart paper. Read aloud the list. Ask each child to draw a picture of one of these ways God shows us his love. Place all the pictures together to make one large mural.

Letters of the Heart

In the second reading, Paul tells us that we are letters written by Christ, not on tablets but on our hearts. We are to share Christ’s love with others. Have the children use modeling clay or dough to make hearts. Help the children use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut out the hearts from the clay. Then help each child use a sharpened pencil tip to imprint his or her initials on one side of the heart and JC for Jesus Christ on the other side of the heart. Let the hearts dry and then give them back to the children. Invite the children to look at these hearts often and think about how they are sharing Jesus' love with others.


Proclaiming Faith Activities

Naming the Motive

Jesus calls his followers to live by the spirit of God's law rather than just obeying the letter of the law. For each of the following examples, name the probable motive of the person who is performing a religious act. Explain your choice.

1) A Catholic goes to Mass regularly but pays little attention to what happens there. The possible motive is _____________________

2) A young person prepares to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation by sincerely examining his or her conscience. The possible motive is ____________________________

3) An elderly person who is not required to fast during Lent chooses to do so as a sign of solidarity with those who are starving in the world. The possible motive is ____________________________________

4) A Christian loses his or her temper and hits another person in anger. He or she says, "I haven't broken the fifth commandment. I didn't kill anybody." The possible motive for this statement is ____________________________________

Make up an example of your own.

________________________________________________

Laying the Foundation

Look again at the first reading from Hosea. Find the four virtues on which the marriage between God and his people are founded.

Sketch four foundation stones, marking each with one of the virtues from the reading. For each stone write one way you will try to live by that virtue. For example, how will you try to do what is right, act justly, be a loving person, and show mercy to others?


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