Discipleship

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel theme is discipleship. A life which does not exclude suffering. 

The Gospel continues from where we left off last Sunday. The apostles have proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus proceeds to dispel any illusions they may have about the Messiah; he was not there to free the Jews from the Romans. He further tells them that he would have to suffer and die. But his death would bring new life, he would rise from the dead. Peter is again the first to reply to Jesus’ declaration. This time, however, it is not his faith which is portrayed but his lack of understanding. Peter does not want Jesus to suffer. Jesus scolds Peter. It was as if Peter was tempting Christ not to do what was being expected of him. Jesus continues to speak, about the life of the disciple. The choices of a disciple would not always be easy, and the reward would not be received on earth but after death.

When Jesus states “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,” he is asking for our commitment. When someone has a goal in life, he strives to achieve it. Athletes and musicians are a clear example. Everyday, they dedicate long hours to practice and training. They give up certain things, including time with their families and friends, athletes for example even adhere to certain diets. Even whilst on holiday, they dedicate a time during the day for training and practice. They have an aim and they want to achieve it; they are ready to make big sacrifices to attain what they want. This is what Jesus is asking of us. What do we want? Do we want to follow him or not? Half measures are not accepted. An athlete does not wake up in the morning, see that it is raining and goes back to sleep. You must admire their determination; early in the morning, you see them running, in the rain, cold, wind and sunshine. Christian living also requires a commitment. We must decide whether we want to live as Christians, bring up our family with Christian values or not.

When Jesus spoke about his suffering, Peter tried to convince him to find another way out. Jesus, however, knew that this was what he was meant to do. This was why he had become man. He did so in view of our salvation. He did not want to save us, solely through his teaching and good example; his death and resurrection were also part of what he was meant to do. Just as athletes and musicians, may find obstacles, even from those close to them, we may find people who will laugh at us or hinder us, because we are trying to live a good life and bring up our family according to true Christian values.  When we decide to follow Jesus, we do not give up our freedom, but we have responsibilities of living the values we believe in. 
Where can we find help, to live as true Christians? The sacraments and the gifts of the Holy Spirit will give us the help we need. They will give us the courage, the will, and the strength to accept the cross and to carry it. Last week, the importance of community was mentioned. The community helps us during this journey. When we are losing hope, when we feel that the cross is too heavy to carry, when we meet with difficulties, being part of a Christian community will help and give us the support we need. Let us remember that Jesus never wanted us to walk this journey on our own. When he sent the disciples, he sent them in twos, so that they could support each other (“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go” [Luke 10, 1]).

A reading from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 16, 21-27)

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. 

Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ

  1. Read the Gospel story so that you are familiar with it.
  2. Reflect on what the Gospel story is saying to you. Which points would you highlight and how do they affect you now?
  3. Is suffering part of our life. To whom do you turn to when you are passing through difficult moments?
  4. Think about the values you are passing on to your family. Is there anything you can improve?
  5. At present, what is the cross you are carrying? Do you speak to Jesus about your cross? Do you ask him for help?
  6. Listen to this song and think about the decisions you make, I will follow.
  7. Together with your family find the right time to read this gospel. The environment helps, so before you start, prepare:
    a) The Bible reading from St Matthew (16, 21-27)
    b) A lit candle
    c) Cover the table with green cloth
    d) A crucifix 
    e) A computer/laptop with the reading and clips
  8. Go through the steps with your children (2 age groups are being suggested)
  9. Feel free to adapt to your situation
  10. Be creative 😊
  11. Go to the Prayer Corner section to continue praying as a family

Through this Gospel, Jesus tell us that it will not always be easy for us to follow him and to obey God’s will in our daily lives.

We will learn that:

  • Jesus wants us to be like him
  • Sometimes, even though we would like to make good choices, we will find it difficult
  • When we do good, we will not necessarily be praised, but Jesus will know, and he will be very happy

We need:

  • Two cut outs (for each child) of the shoe below
  • Colours, glitter

Jesus tells his friends that when he will eventually enter Jerusalem, he will be caught, beaten, and killed. Jesus likewise tells them that he will rise from the dead. Do you know through which feasts we celebrate these central occurrences in the life of Jesus? (Good Friday and Easter).

Peter loved Jesus a lot. He did not want Jesus to suffer and he told him that he did not want him to suffer and die. Nonetheless, Jesus replies that although he would suffer a lot, he wanted to do it to show how much he loves everyone. Through his death, we would be saved. The gates of Heaven have been opened for us.

Jesus tells his friends, that since they loved him, they had to follow his example. He instructed them not only to care for themselves but also to take care of others. 

Have you ever heard the expression ‘to put yourself in someone else’s shoe’? This is what Jesus wants us to do. Here comes an example. I have a lot of games on the computer. My friend does not. Had I been in my friend’s position, what would I like? Would I expect my friend who has a lot of computer games, to tease me or make fun of me for not having games as he does, or would I expect him eagerly to invite me to play with him? What do you think?

Daddy has come back from work and is tired. Let me put myself in his shoes and think: “Daddy promised to take me to the playing fields. He is back home. Let me remind him about his promise”. Shall I say this or shall I say: “daddy looks very tired, I will go to my room and play and afterwards I will ask him if he wants to take me to the playing fields”?

Jesus wants us to love others. When we put ourselves in their shoes before deciding how to behave or before saying something, we would be showing them love. It will not always be easy and sometimes we will forget! It is good that we will always try to do our best.

You have two shapes of a shoe each. Colour them and decorate them. If you want, you can laminate them. Stick one of the shoes on the fridge, and put the others in places where you see them (even in mummy’s or daddy’s car); when you go to school you can put one in the pencil case. When you see the shoe, you will remember that Jesus wants us to love others. When we put ourselves in their shoes, we will be loving them and loving Jesus too. Whilst the children are decorating the shoes we can listen to Come follow me.

We say the Our Father together. Do not rush through the prayer, say it slowly, especially the part when we say: ‘thy will be done’.

As in previous weeks, go to the Prayer Corner section to understand the Gospel better.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus prepares the apostles for what was to come by telling them that he had to suffer and die. He explains to them that through his death there will be new life. Peter, and most probably even the other apostles, did not understand Jesus.

We will learn that:

  • Jesus wants us to follow him
  • Following Jesus does not mean that everything will be easy, we will have to do some difficult choices too
  • Some will try to hinder us, even when we make good choices

We need:

  • 2 cardboard papers (or one cardboard paper and a big wooden cross)
  • Pencil
  • Tape
  • Heart shaped cut-outs

In today’s Gospel, Jesus talks about those who want to follow him. Jesus tells us that following him will not always be easy. Jesus himself struggled to face various difficulties and partly because of this, he speaks about his suffering and death. Nonetheless, Jesus knew what he had to do. He wanted to obey God the Father. Jesus rebuked Peter when he told him that he would not let him suffer.

Following Jesus means obeying the Commandments while loving others and seeking to make the world a better place. Jesus knows that it is not easy to love those who call us names or make fun of us. Jesus calls these difficulties our cross. Have you ever seen a tapestry? If you have one at home, or know someone who has one, ask them to see it. The picture is beautiful. Despite this, if you look at its back side, all you see is a mixture of colours and many knots! Our life is like a tapestry. We see our life, in the same way we see the tapestry from underneath. It will not always be beautiful; at times we will not understand why certain things happen even though we are doing what Jesus would like us to do. Yet Jesus is seeing the tapestry from the top. Out of our difficulties, obstacles and our good choices, Jesus is creating a beautiful picture.

On one of the cardboard papers we draw a big cross (as big as the paper allows) and cut it out so that it may stand on its own. If we have a wooden cross or crucifix and we can stick papers to it without any damage, we can use this instead. From the remaining cardboard we cut out heart shapes (they do not need to be big). From today up to the coming Sunday, every member of the family will pay attention to what he/she does. Those actions which show our choice of following Jesus, are written on a heart shape and stuck to the cross. The cross is put in a place seen by all the family. Do you think we will manage to cover the cross with hearts during the coming week? (these are a few examples of what we can do: praying for others, helping others, reading the Bible, listening to Christian music, praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, talking to others about Jesus)Whilst doing the cross and hearts, listen to I have decided.

Jesus, we want to follow you, even though we know that it will not always be easy. Give us the courage and strength to do good choices, so that through our actions we show others how much you love us. Amen. 

As in previous weeks, go to the Prayer Corner section to understand the Gospel better.

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.