The Good News is certainly good, but it isn’t easy. Our mission—and our faith is fruitless without mission—brings us joy and also brings challenge. We are given comfort along the way, particularly when things seem their bleakest.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
The first reading comes from the end of the book of the Prophet Isaiah. After Jerusalem had been completely destroyed, the leaders had been exiled and were gone for generations, God sent a leader to Persia (the superpower at that time) who told the people to go home and rebuild. These people never knew Jerusalem—since it was generations later, they were born in captivity and were now being sent to a home they didn’t know, to rebuild a place that they had never seen. But God had big plans for them and encouraged them to step out in faith so that they could build a home where they could be free and know God.
In the second reading, Paul says that the only thing that matters to him is his relationship with Jesus. Every single thing in his life, every decision he makes, every circumstance he finds himself in, is measured against the fact that Jesus brought us salvation. Nothing can bother him in his ministry because he knows that everything is already accomplished in God.
The Gospel is a hard one. Jesus tells us that if people reject the Good News that we try to share with them that we should “shake the dust” off our feet against them. That sounds like we can cut people out of our lives. But, that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying that when we offer people peace and they don’t want to take it, we can still live in peace—we can still live in love. We don’t write them off; we pray for them, love them, hang out with them (if we want to) and keep living the way we want to—without letting them take away our freedom. That is where we find joy; in the freedom of God where we don’t have to judge people for not choosing what we choose, but being able to love them all the same. Not being upset with people for not being where we are in our relationship with God, but being able to continue to live it without worrying about what they think. Because, like Paul, we only have to care what God thinks. Then, we can build the lives that God wants for us where we can be free and know God.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Break Open the Word with Your Family
Would you be afraid to leave the home that you have always known and start a new life? Have you ever had to do that? What would be good about that? What would be scary?
Do you find it hard to love people who don’t think the way you do? Do you ever have trouble with friends or family who don’t understand what you believe and why you live the way you do? Do you allow it to effect the way you make choices?
Staying in relationships with difficult people—especially family—can be our biggest cross. It would be very easy to use today’s Gospel as an “out” to walk away from a hard relationship. Do you find value in keeping the ties, on whatever terms you find suitable? What are some ways that you can remain in relationship without allowing the other to continue to hurt you?
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.”