Happy New Year! Today begins the new liturgical cycle, Cycle C, when we focus mostly on the Gospel of Luke. We also begin the Season of Advent, when we prepare our hearts and our homes for Christmas.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Today’s readings have two major themes—hope and vigilance. We hope in the second coming of Jesus and we are vigilant in our efforts to live his love more perfectly in our lives every day. Did you ever see a stump or a tree that you thought was dead and a little sprout starts growing out of it? That is often what faith is like. Sometimes, we feel dry or sad, or like we are alone, but then a little sprout of hope enters our hearts.
Our first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah tells us about the “just shoot” from the line of King David. Jesus is that shoot—things looked really bad for Israel at the time that Jesus came into the world. Life was hard and scary and the people wondered why God wasn’t helping them. Then, Jesus came. He came to bring hope where there wasn’t much and he taught us how to remember that God was always with us, even when things looked bleak. The seed of hope is what God plants in us to begin our preparation to receive the healing that Jesus came to bring us.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Break Open the Word with Your Family
Do you ever feel sad? What gives you hope that things will be alright?
When you’re a teen you have to be vigilant a lot—in your schoolwork, in sports or school activities, in budgeting your time, perhaps in a job and in your friendships and family relationships. What happens when you stop paying attention to these important things, or when you don’t give them the appropriate focus? What happens when you don’t spend enough time in prayer? What are some things that you have to be vigilant about in your life right now? How will doing the right thing now impact your future?
If you do any gardening, you have probably seen that when you cut a tree down, it will often sprout back up if you don’t get the roots out. Trees are stubborn. God is also stubborn—when we’d rather stay in the bleak, he keeps hope quietly whispering in us. Think about the gentleness of the infant Jesus. How can you invite that presence into your heart this Advent?
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 Kids 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 readings—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 Lord and remains with him forever.”