I will not!

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel is about choices. Everyone, everyday makes a number of choices. There are times when we make good choices. In some occasions we do not. Every choice has consequences. Not all choices carry the same importance. There are choices, which we can decide upon straight away, and there are others which require much thought. There are choices which we make on our own, other choices are influenced by others or by the situation we are in at that particular moment. Not all good choices bring about satisfaction. Where you ever in a situation, where you made the right choice and you lost friends, a promotion at work, or you lost money? Despite the fact that the decision was a tough one to call, since it was the right decision, you were at peace. When the choice was wrong, the opposite was true. It could be, that through a bad choice, you gained what you wanted, but your conscience was not still and was not at peace. God is love. He wants us to be at peace and to have joyful hearts. God knows that we will make wrong choices. Yet, when we are sorry, he gives us another chance, through the sacrament of reconciliation.

Today’s parable offers us a challenge. It shows that our actions are more important than our commitment in words. Conversion (repentance) is important. To repent means that we have a change of heart and that we change for the better. Jesus praised the son who at first did not want to go and help his father but then changed his mind and went to the fields. Words on their own are not enough. Jesus was very clear when he said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 7, 21). Believing in God is not enough. We have to reflect such a belief in the way we live. To say that I love God is not enough. Our actions have to show this love. It is the same with our family and friends. I can tell my children that I love them from morning till night but that will be meaningless if my words are not reflected in my actions. 

A reading from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 21, 28-32)

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’

He said in reply, ‘I will not, but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” 

They answered, “The first.” 

Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

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 why?
  3. During the last few days:
    – Did you make decisions because you were influenced or compelled by others?
    – Did you promise someone that you will do something, and ended up not keeping your promise?
    – You did not do your duty
    – What were your good choices?
  4. What can you do, so that you do not repeat your wrong choices?
  5. Pray Psalm 119 (1-8)

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
    who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes
    and seek him with all their heart—
they do no wrong
    but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts
    that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
    in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
    when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart
    as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
    do not utterly forsake me.

  1. Together with your family find the right time to read this gospel. The environment helps, so before you start, prepare:
    i. The Bible reading from St Matthew (21, 28-32)
    ii. A lit candle
    iii. Cover the table with green cloth
    iv. A computer/laptop with the reading and clips
  2. Go through the steps with your children (2 age groups are being suggested)
  3. Feel free to adapt to your situation
  4. Be creative 😊
  5. Go to the Prayer Spaces section to continue praying as a family

Today Jesus is going to tell us another parable. This is a story about two brothers and their father. Most probably you will understand it really well, since at times, you might have behaved like these two brothers!

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  • Jesus is not always pleased with the things we do
  • Jesus wants us to be sorry for our wrong choices and he wants us to try not to repeat them again
  • We should keep our promises. When we say that we will do something, we really do it

We need:

  • heart template (print on red paper)
  • felt pens
  • stickers

What was today’s parable about? (give the children time to say it in their own words)

The father of these two boys, needed their help. The eldest one, did not want to go and help him, but then he changed his mind and went. The second one, said that he would go but he did not! Did something like this ever happen to you?

We consider an example. You asked daddy to take you to the swings. He said that he would take you, after you finish your homework. You finished your homework, but daddy started watching a football match, so he did not keep his word and take you. How did you feel?

It may have happened differently too! Daddy told you that he could not take you to the swings because he wanted to watch the football game, but then he called you and took you to the swings. How did you feel?

Which situation do you prefer?

It could also be that you behaved like those two brothers. Do you remember a time, when mummy or daddy asked you to do something and you said that you would do it and you never did? For example, mummy asks you to open the garden door to allow your dog to come in. It could be that you were busy playing, you said that you would open the door, but in fact you did not, you did not even open the door when you finished the game! Or the opposite may have happened. When mummy asked you to open the garden door for your dog, you said that you did not want to, but then you changed your mind and went and let him in.

When did you reallu obey? When you said that you would let the dog in, but never went to open the door? Or when you said that you did not want to do so, but changed your mind and went to let the dog in?

Jesus wants us to always obey (note to parents/adults: it may be the case where you have to explain that Jesus wants us to obey, as long as what is being asked of us is good). Jesus knows that there are times when we will not obey, and that there are times when we change our minds and obey. Jesus is telling us that it would be best if we obey straight away, but if we do not, and change our mind later on, we should say that we are sorry, and if we are still in time, we should do what we were asked to do.

You know what else? Jesus says that when we obey we are showing that person that we love him or her. When we obey our parents we are showing them that we love them. When we love our parents, we are also loving Jesus.

Do you always remember what you were asked to do? The activity this week will help us to remember to obey straightaway. 

Draw a heart on the red cardboard paper. Write on it: Obeying means loving. During this week, our parents will put a sticker on the heart for each time we obey. How many stickers do you think you will get?

(note to parents: make the heart in proportion to the stickers. If the stickers are small, do not make a big heart, otherwise, it will still look empty by the end of the week. The aim of this activity is to praise the children for their obedience. It is important not to turn this activity into a competition between siblings, as to who will have the most stickers. Every time you put a sticker, remind the child that when they obey, they are showing God that they love him. When they disobey, pray with them, so that next time they will be better children. When they are sorry for their misbehaviour, forgive them. Celebrate their good choices and do not over emphasise their wrong doings.)

Whilst doing the heart, listen to, I obey right away.

Sign of the cross.

Jesus, I want to love you and I want to love others. Help me to obey, even when I do not feel like it. Amen.

In today’s Gospel we will listen to another parable. This parable narrated by Jesus is about a father who had some vineyards and asks his sons to help him.

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We will learn that:

  • It is important that we keep our promises
  • To repent, we need to change for the better
  • Jesus wants us to love God and to love others

We need:

  • A printout of the Commandments game

Do you remember the last time when you were asked to do something? (allow the children to think and speak)

What did you do? Did you obey straight away? Did you do it later on? Or you did not do it at all?

How did you feel about your choice?

How do you think the person, asking for help, felt?

In today’s parable, there was a father and his two sons.

What did the father ask the first son? (to go and help him in the field)

What did the son reply? (he told him that he did not want to go, but he then changed his mind and went)

What did the second son reply? (he told him that he would go, but he never did!)

Why do you think the second son did not go?

What do you think Jesus wants to teach us through this parable? (our actions are important; it is not enough to say that we will obey. We ought to do what we have been asked to do)

The father of the story is like God. We are like the two brothers. Jesus is telling us that when God is asking us to do something, we should do it. It is not enough to say that we will do it. We should really do it. The first son, who did not want to obey, but then changed his mind, repented. It means, that he changed his mind and chose to do what was good.

What do you do to show others that you love them?

Name the persons you love.

How do you show them that you love them?

When we love someone, we do things to show them that we love them. How can we show God that we love him?

Let us remember that although our choices do not always show God that we love him, we can still change to become better persons. God always loves us. God always gives us a chance to change and become better people.

Do you know the Commandments?

Can you name them?

These are not rules that God gave us to make us sad or to hinder us from doing the things which we want to do. They are like guidelines for us. When we obey these commandments, we will be happy. We will not always manage to obey them. It will not always be easy to obey them, either. It does not matter. God knows all this. Nevertheless, he wants us to be like that son who at first did not want to obey his father, but then changed his mind. God wants us to be sorry for our bad choices and he wants us to avoid repeating them.

It is good to know how to recite the Ten Commandments, but it would be best if we knew what they meant so that we can follow them. Today’s activity will help us to do just that.

Cut alongside the outside perimeter. It is important that we are careful so that we do not change the dimensions. Watch to help you fold the paper correctly.  When we do the first fold, the paper should be face down, that is the printed part should be face on the table. When we are ready, see who knows the commandments best.

Sign of the cross.

Jesus, you always keep your promises. I want to be like you and keep my promises too. Help me to know when I choose to do wrong, so that I do not repeat them.

Listen to, I will obey.

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.