For many cradle Catholics, opening our Bibles in a new experience. Many of us were not brought up reading the Scriptures and we may feel a little uncomfortable or even embarrassed about “not knowing” the Bible very well. On the other hand, we hear the Scriptures proclaimed every Sunday at Mass. During the Liturgy of the Word, we hear an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading (usually from Paul’s letters) and a reading from each Sunday’s gospel. The gospels are divided in a three-year cycle so that we hear nearly all of the gospels stories of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection over a period of three years.
If you are a Faith Formation Director, gather families each Sunday after Mass for a short discussion of each week’s gospel readings. While many families may be traveling, summer is actually the perfect time for lectionary-based scripture study. The pace is slower, families can linger over donuts and coffee, and many parents are looking for ways to help keep the faith alive and growing during the summer break from religious education classes or Catholic school. Be sure to build in lots of time for fellowship and faith sharing.
If you are doing a home-based Scripture study, gather your family around the kitchen table after Mass on Sunday and discuss the Sunday’s Scripture reading over breakfast. Encourage kids to share their thoughts, even they don’t understand the Gospel very well. Also try to incorporate how your family can live out the Gospels this summer. Serve at a shelter one Sunday or invite a neighbor who is dealing with a job-loss to dinner. Offer to bring up the gifts at Mass or serve in one of the many liturgical volunteer roles – lector, Eucharistic minister, alter server, etc. There are many ways to live Jesus message to build up the kingdom of God!
Keep your summer issue of Take Out on the fridge or bulletin board to be used each Sunday. The following are some suggestions to guide conversation for each of the Summer Sundays:
How do you think the disciples felt when they arrived at the mountain?
You may talk about possible feelings of anxiety or fear. Share about times when you felt nervous or afraid and things turned out better than expected.
Jesus asks us to teach others today, too. How do you do it? In what other ways might you do it?
Think of some ways your family teaches the faith through daily life. Going to Mass on Sundays is a way to teach the faith, as well as sharing material goods with those people who are less fortunate. Living a life based on stewardship, that is being mindful that everything we have is a gift from God is a way to teach the faith. Talk with your kids about ways they may share the faith at school – being kind, speaking up against a bully or helping someone who is ostracized from the “in group” might be ways to share Jesus’ teachings.
Eucharist means to “give thanks.” Why is that a good name for the Eucharistic celebration?
You might share that the Eucharist is based on a meal. So the entirety of Mass is giving thanks to God. We are most thankful to God for sending his son, Jesus to show us how to live.
What are something things for which you are thankful?
When we gather for a meal we often talk about what we are thankful about each day. Some answers could be, health, good weather, friends, family, a home, blessings, etc. Talk about how all good things come from God.
How did the apostles feel when the storm breaks out?
You might talk about how afraid they were because they did not recognize that Jesus was the Messiah who could calm the winds. If you live in a part of the country that deals with stormy weather in the summer, talk about how you feel when the wind blows or you experience thunder and lightening. It helps to remember that Jesus is with us in those scary times.
When have you asked Jesus for help in your life?
Some answers might relate to school … asking Jesus for help on a test or with a difficult assignment for example. Or it could be an illness or other trauma that your family has dealt with. Talk about ways that Jesus is with us, even though we still experience tough times.
Do you think Jairus had faith in God? Why?
Jairus was in the elite class in Jesus’ day, he was an authority figure with a lot of power. He would not have asked for Jesus’ if he didn’t believe deeply that God was dwelling in Jesus.
Do you know someone who really trusts Jesus?
Answers might be, a grandparent, a teacher, coach, mentor or parish priest. Be sure to give your kids time to think of this answer on their own without too much “leading”, it is interesting to hear who they think of as a faith leader.
Have you ever felt not accepted?
Talk about your child’s experience at school or at another social event where they might not have felt comfortable. How did they feel? Sad, alone, mad. Jesus must have felt these same feelings. Learning about Jesus in this way helps kids to know him as a trusted friend who understands what they go through.
Why did the people not accept Jesus?
First, talk about why some people do not accept other people – fear of the unknown and different, bias and rigid beliefs. The people knew Jesus only as a boy from town, they could not understand how this same boy could be the Messiah. You can also talk about how we tend to “put people in boxes,” that is only see them one way. If someone plays football, for example, can they also be in theater? Why or why not?
Why do you think Jesus told the apostles to travel in pairs or to not take things with them?
Traveling together could be for practical reasons (it is safer), but also for communal reasons. Jesus says that “wherever two or more are gathered” in his name, he will be present. Jesus is clearly with the apostles in their travels.
What was the mission Jesus gave to the apostles? Do we have a mission like that?
The apostles were sent out to evangelize or tell people about Jesus. We do have a mission like this because we were baptized as disciples of Jesus. Some way we can share in Jesus’ mission are talking about our faith with friends and family, living our faith through treating others with respect and sharing our goods, and offering forgiveness to one another (especially among siblings) when we have a disagreement.
What did Jesus do when the people followed him? Does this tell you something about Jesus?
Even thought Jesus was tired and worn out from being so busy, he still continued to minister to the people. Jesus is compassionate – that means he loves us and understands our needs and wants. Like a parent, Jesus wants to give us what we need. Another conversation might be about how Jesus puts other people first before his own needs.
Who needs you this summer?
Talk about ways you can give to other people this summer, even if that might mean putting their needs first. You might have friends or relatives who are struggling with the tough economic times, illness or other hardship. Maybe a neighbor needs help with a newborn or child care, even yard clean up. Make a commitment to do some of these things as a family this summer.
Do you ever feel that you have little to give? What happens when you ask God to bless your work/your gifts?
Talk about the gifts that each members of your family have (i.e. good singing voice, fast runner, good with numbers, technical, gentle, compassionate, good reader…) All of our gifts are magnified when we give them to God and use them to help others.
Which of the people in this story are you most like?
One member of your family may feel like the young boy who offers his little food, while another might relate to the people who are hungry! Someone may feel like Jesus, who helps everyone through sharing.
What kind of bread did Jesus tell people to work for?
Discuss how the bread we eat is of this earth, it comes from the earth and feeds our bodies while we are living here on Earth. Jesus promises another kind of bread that feeds our souls and prepares us for our eternal life in heaven. This might lead into a conversation about how we often spend too much time thinking about material things – toys, clothes, iPods, video games, etc. – when our hearts should spend more time focused on how we are living our lives.
Think of a time when Jesus has nourished you or made a difference in your everyday life.
You might talk about how good you feel after going to Mass on Sunday or how praying to Jesus helped in difficult times.
How could it be that those who eat this bread that Jesus gives will never die?
Depending on the age of your children, this may be a difficult (or even scary) concept to grasp. We will all one day die and this life will pass away. But we believe that all of the baptized will live forever one day in the after life – we will rise again like Jesus and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
How can we experience the fullness of Jesus’ life right now? How do you share Jesus’ life?
You might talk about the ways that your parish community is supportive or connected to your family. Or how your family connects with your extended family. Living out Jesus’ teachings in our everyday life is equally important to preparing for the after life. How we treat others today is what Jesus speaks of most in the gospels.
There seems to be many passages about the bread of life. Jesus said, “Amen, amen, I say to you” (he’s telling us the truth). How important was Jesus’ word to the people of his time? To today’s world? To you?
This question can have various answers. You might talk about how different people responded to Jesus in different ways while he was on Earth. Some people listened to him and followed him (disciples), while others were afraid of him (many authority figures, high priests, some Pharisees). The reactions seem to be the same in today’s world with many, many people embracing Jesus all around the world, while others (some governments and authority figures) try and suppress his message out of fear.
One very good way of responding to the great gift of the Eucharist is gratitude. What could you do to show gratitude to God for the gift of the Eucharist?
Here you might discuss prayer and how we can thank God everyday for our many blessings, but most especially the gift of the Eucharist – that is Jesus himself who came down from heaven to give himself to us.
What choice did the apostles have to make?
Even though it wasn’t popular among many fellow Jews, the apostles choose to stay with Jesus when other people mock them or do not believe. Talk about times when you or your kids made a difficult choice to stay with something or someone even though it was unpopular and meant that you might be teased or worse. How did you feel through that experience? You might also mention how these times in our life take great courage – to stand up for what you believe in even though it is unpopular.
Are you like Peter? Or at times, are you like those who walked away?
Share openly about mistakes that you have made or decisions that you might make differently today. Be sure to talk about how God loves through all of life – even our mistakes – and how we are always offered forgiveness by God for our short comings.
What was it that the disciples didn’t do? What answer did Jesus give then the Pharisees questioned him about this?
The disciples broke the cultural custom of the day about hand washing before a meal. Jesus talks about how the spirit of the law is more important that the letter of the law. Rules are important, but serving others is even more important.
What is a “hypocrite?” Why do you think Jesus used this very strong word?
A hypocrite is someone who talks about something but doesn’t live in the same way. In other words, some people “talk the talk, but never walk the walk.” Jesus might have used this word because he was trying to teach us that it important to live out his teachings rather than just pass them on to other people. Other people really should know we are Christians by our love.
What does God care about our actions/our decisions?
You might talk about what we learn from following Jesus. Jesus teaches that God cares most about how we treat other people is more important than being “perfect”. Jesus teaches that God also knows our hearts and why we are making the decisions we are… Are we doing something out of selfishness or do we really think it is best? God cares about our intentions too.
Catholic Faith Resources | For Catholic Parishes | Order OSV Products | RSS | Advertise | About Us | Contact Us | Jobs