This Sunday, we are reminded of Godâ€™s promise to restore us to right relationship with him and our role in that restoration.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Todayâ€™s first reading from the prophet Baruch offers the image of Israel who had been led off in slavery being returned to their homeland in security, making the path easier for us, and â€śâ€¦God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.â€ť
In the second reading, Paul prays for us that our â€śâ€¦love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value.â€ť
And in the Gospel, Luke recalls a passage from the prophet Isaiah, similar to Baruch, which invites us to prepare the way of the Lord. In our preparation, God will remove the obstacles that would prevent us from being with Godâ€” â€śEvery valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.â€ť
Here is the point: When we make an effort to invite Jesus into our hearts, God begins to remove anything that would stand between us and God. God wants to be close with every one of usâ€”God is always there, waiting for us to turn to him. When we doâ€”when we seek to become what God dreams for us to beâ€”God helps us in every way to get there.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Break Open the Word with Your Family
Did you ever try to do something that was just too big for you, that you couldnâ€™t do on your own? Who helped you to accomplish it? Why do you think they helped you? How did it make you feel to know that you didnâ€™t have to do it all by yourself?
Are there any obstacles in your relationship with God? What about in your other relationships? God is not a provider of obstaclesâ€”God is a provider of restoration.Â Â What needs to be restored in your relationships, and how can God help you with that?
In the second reading, the key to having God remove our obstacles is shown to usâ€”that we would â€śdiscern what is of value.â€ť How can knowing what is really of value, and making those things a priority help you to prepare your heart for receiving Jesus into your heart as you prepare for Christmas?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for KidsÂ to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readingsâ€”what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the LordÂ and remains with him forever.”