God's Word, Your World
Reflections and Actions to Share with Catholic Teens
Oct 16, 2017 10:28 AM
Aug 31, 2017 12:27 PM
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 3, 2017
When was the last time you were really angry? Have you ever been really angry at God? I remember being quite angry when I was fifteen years old. I was on the school basketball team and the only time the coach would put me in a game was when our team was either ahead or behind by thirty points. I felt like such a loser. I blamed God for not making me a better basketball player, someone like Stephen Curry. You may be surprised to see that the Scriptures include stories of people being angry at God. In the readings for this week the prophet Jeremiah is really angry at God because his ministry as a prophet has brought him “reproach and derision” (v. 8d). Jeremiah does not like this suffering. He’s mad. Too often we imagine that if we are following God, then we will never be angry at God. But this is not true. In the Gospel reading we hear this same anger expressed by Peter when he rebukes Jesus. Peter was angry with Jesus because he had left everything to follow him and expected Jesus to establish a new kingdom, with Peter as his right hand man. Jesus is angry too. He says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” Jesus is revealing a truth that is very hard to hear. Suffering will be part of the journey of following God. Taking up the Cross is very challenging news. Suffering often makes us angry!
Jesus’ journey of suffering (the Cross) leads to Resurrection. This is the central mystery of Christianity. This is called the Paschal Mystery. We participate in this Mystery as we journey from anger and suffering to new life, healing, and Resurrection. Theologian Gerard Broccolo uses the metaphor of turning one’s cross into a bridge. He explains that after we suffer for a sufficient amount of time, we can start to see that others are suffering too. We can start to use our own suffering as a bridge to reach out to others. We can bend our cross into a wonderful bridge of access to God’s love through our compassion. In this action of turning our crosses to bridges we find new life. When we share honestly about our own anger or suffering, we help others realize that they are not alone. When our focus turns from our own anger and suffering to care and compassion for others, we find new life, new joy, and new love. We rise together!
When was a time when you suffered and were angry at God because of this suffering? Who is someone you know who is suffering right now? How might you be a bridge of compassion to this person this week?
God’s Word, Your World! 2017–2018 © 2017 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Orders: 1-800-933-1800. Written by Jeffery Kaster. NABRE © 2010 CCD. Permission to publish granted by the Most Reverend Francis J. Kane, dd, Vicar General, Archdiocese of Chicago, on September 19, 2016.
Aug 14, 2017 10:15 AM
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 20, 2017
Did you ever stop to consider that, in the midst of his ministry, Jesus himself didn’t have it all figured out yet? Does it seem irreverent to even suggest that? Jesus is fully human and fully divine (God). It’s what we call the Incarnation, and it’s a great mystery of our faith. Brilliant and faithful thinkers over the centuries have tried to unpack what we mean when we say that Jesus is both truly God and truly human. Today’s Gospel invites us to do the same by considering how Jesus grew in his sense of who he was in his humanity, and to whom he was sent to minister. At the beginning of the story, Jesus is unmoved by the Canaanite woman’s pleas to heal her daughter. He tells her he was sent “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (that is, his own people; Matthew 15:24). It’s jarring to witness Jesus acting so callous and insensitive toward this woman who is obviously hurting. He insults her, implying that she is a dog! But the woman persists. She turns Jesus’ words upside down and something truly shocking happens: Jesus has a change of heart! He allows her daughter to be healed. The encounter with the Canaanite woman (an outsider) is a moment of conversion — for Jesus, that is. From this point onward his ministry expands to the entire world. By the end of Matthew’s account of the Gospel he instructs his followers to go “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Today’s lesson is about God’s endless mercy being extended to all.
Find comfort in this: Jesus grew and developed as a person, just like you and me. If he didn’t he would have been faking his humanity. The Canaanite woman challenged Jesus to expand his notion of who was “part of the club.” It was a turning point for Jesus’ own life. Surely, there are people in our own lives as well who we choose to exclude — perhaps because they are different, they have let us down, or don’t live up to our standards. And unfortunately, many people experience church as a place of exclusion as well, rather than as a place of unconditional acceptance. Isaiah says, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Who could we invite into our circles this week to make them a little bit wider?
Do you find it easier to identify with Jesus’ humanity or with his divinity?
Why are they both equally important?
What can Jesus’ humanity teach us about our own humanity?
God’s Word, Your World! 2016 – 2017 © 2016 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Orders: 1-800-933-1800. Written by Mary O’Neill McManus. Permission to publish granted by the Very Reverend Ronald A. Hicks, Vicar General, Archdiocese of September 2, 2015.
Aug 8, 2017 10:03 AM
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 13, 2017
Have you ever truly experienced complete silence? Society is so full of noise, which comes to us from a multitude of sources. I don’t even fully realize how much sound there is around me until I am confronted with true silence. For example, one time I was in my house. My wife was out of town for business, I had just put our baby to sleep for the night, and I had settled in on the couch to read a book. All of a sudden, the power to the house cut out. Even though I had thought it was quiet in the house, once all our appliances, clocks, and light bulbs turned off, I realized how much noise was still present around me. An almost eerie silence enveloped me.
Today’s First Reading from 1 Kings speaks of God passing through Elijah as he stood on Mount Horeb. Elijah was told to go outside of his cave to stand before the Lord. Because of this experience, Elijah learns that God was not in the loud or disruptive events of wind, earthquakes, or fire, but rather, God was present in a tiny whisper. So often, we go about our busy days, tending to all the things that keep us busy: school, work, family life, homework, and so on. Our lives are so full that sometimes we may miss God passing us by in a simple whisper. An important aspect of the spiritual life is to slow down and enter into some silence so that we can notice God moving in our lives. God walks into this world and invites us to be a reflection of his love. Sometimes what is needed is for us to quiet ourselves so that we can hear his walking and truly follow him.
Make a conscious effort this week to enter into some silence. Our lives can get so cluttered with many things that sometimes we need to make some effort to step away from the things that distract and consume. If possible, get out into some nature. Or go and spend some quiet time in prayer or participate in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Leave your phone at home. Find a place away from the crowds and commotion. Be attentive to what you experience and hear around you.
Are there moments in your daily life in which you experience the quiet?
If so, identify when in your day this happens. What do you notice in those moments in which it is quiet?
What are the quiet moments in which you experience God’s presence?
God’s Word, Your World! 2016 – 2017 © 2016 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Orders: 1-800-933-1800. Written by Kyle Turner. Permission to publish granted by the Very Reverend Ronald A. Hicks, Vicar General, Archdiocese of September 2, 2015.