4th Sunday in Lent Cycle C
Welcome children to their worship space.
Explain: Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent. Do you see any changes in the banner this week? Why do you think we are seeing changes as we go through Lent? <to show how we are changing as we prepare for Christ’s death and resurrection> What are you doing in your family to get ready for Lent? <giving up something, some sort of consistent saving for the Rice Bowl, prayer, etc.>
Say: Today’s symbol <hold up the symbol> is a dove with a heart on it. What do you think of when you see a dove? <peace> Can anyone think of an idea that goes along with the word “peace”? hint:: we have a sacrament for this. <forgiveness or reconciliation>
What might the heart stand for? <love> God shows us his love by forgiving us, by reconciling with us. In God’s love we become like new, we have a new life.
Say: Let’s look at the poster. What does it say? <The Lord speaks of peace to His people> This is our Responsorial Psalm for today. The Responsorial Psalms also come from Scripture, from the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament.
Ask: Can you think of something we do at Mass that has to do with peace and your hands? <The sign of peace> What does the sign of peace mean? <it means that you have no problems between you and the people you share the sign with, that there is peace and forgiveness between you>
Say: Let’s light the candle to show that we are ready to listen to the Words of God.
Say: Today’s first reading is from the New Testament letter of St Paul to the Corinthians. (2Cor 5:17 –19) Paul talks very clearly about how God sent Jesus to bring peace and forgiveness between man and God…… and then left a very important job for us to do. Let’s pretend that Paul is writing to us and see if we can understand what our job is.
Have the reader read the first reading.
Ask: What do you think? Did you hear what Paul said that we have to do? <sharing God’s message of peace, helping others understand about God> We must do what Jesus always told us to do…. We must do what Jesus did.
Say: Now it is time for the Responsorial Psalm. Your part is to say:
The Lord speaks of peace to His people.
Say: Today’s Gospel reading comes from the book of Luke. (Lk 15:1-3, 11b-32) Today’s Gospel is one of Jesus’ parables. It is a story that many of you may be familiar with. It is a story about a father and his sons. Can you think of the story? <guess> One of the sons doesn’t want to work. He wants to party all the time. So he takes his father’s money and leaves home. <guess again - Someone will probably have guessed it by now>
The story has a lot of messages – one message is about the son who left home and there is a whole other message about the son who stayed with his father and did what he was supposed to do. Let’s hear the story Jesus told the people and see if we can understand the message.
Say: Now we will get ready to hear the Gospel
(hold up card) Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Have the reader begin: “a reading from the holy gospel.....”
Read: Read the Gospel
Ask: What do you think Jesus is trying to tell us about the boy who left home? <that he made some mistakes> What happened when he went back to his father? What did his father do? <forgave him and made everything like it was before, like he had never left> Who do you think the father represents? <God> And what about the son who made the mistakes, what do you think that means? <he represents someone who has sinned, then he was sorry, and then he made it right with his father>
Now, what we don’t usually talk about is the other son. What happened to him? <first he was angry at his brother… and then angry at his father for taking his brother back like nothing had happened> How do you think you would have felt? Does this seem fair? <discuss>
Explain: The important thing for us to know is that God forgives everybody who is truly sorry. No matter what they did. This does not seem fair to those who are good all the time – but this is God’s message of love. And this is the part that is hardest for us to understand. But this is the job that Jesus gave us – forgiving others and bringing God’s peace to them even if it seems like they don’t deserve it.
Ask children to add their names to the cutouts (dove) provided. Remind the children that we are making a poster for each Sunday and that they will sign a cutout and glue it on when they are here.
Hand out the symbols to color and cut out. (The symbol is a dove).
Explain: Color this symbol of the dove and bring it to the altar (don’t forget to put your name on the back!) to show that we have learned about bringing God’s peace to other people.
*if you can, write on the back one thing you can do to help bring God’s peace to yourself or others during the week.
If there is time, ask questions and go over the lessons one more time to help the children remember.
4th Sunday Lent C
Today your children heard a simplified version of the same readings that you heard: 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 and Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32.
To reinforce at home:
Forgiveness! That is the key word for today’s readings. Peace in the world begins with forgiveness. If we can forgive, we can have peace in our hearts… if we have peace in our hearts, there will be more peace in the world.
The Gospel reading is the well-known story of the prodigal son. This is the story about two sons and a father. One son takes his inheritance and wastes it. One son stays with his father and works hard. The son who left and made such a mess of his life returns looking for forgiveness. The father receives him happily re-instating him in the family.
We have two things to look for in this story. One is the complete and total forgiveness of the father. God, our father, forgives us this totally. The second thing is the feelings of the “good” son. In human terms, it isn’t fair that the “bad” son gets treated so well while the other one is treated the same as always. God wants us to be as loving as he is – we must rejoice when sinners are forgiven. They will receive the same eternal reward that we will. If we have hard feelings in our hearts, this is a sin.
Activities to do at home:
*Read Scripture. Read the parable of the prodigal son from a children’s bible. Discuss the issue of the older son’s feelings.
*Go to the sacrament of Reconciliation together with your child. Talk about God’s forgiveness of sinners like us.
*Have a family celebration of forgiveness of each other.
Thank you for sharing your children!