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Resources for Family Mass

2 July, 2017 • Gospel: Matthew 10:37-42
Theme: To be a real disciple is to put the spirit of Jesus before all else


Sacred Space: Tickets/walking shoes/walking stick/signpost

Homily: In today’s Gospel Jesus is explaining to us that we are called to be loyal and resilient followers. This means that we need to listen to Jesus when he explains to us what it takes to follow with all of our hearts, minds and bodies. To love God is not a simple and easy thing. It takes years of trying, years of refining our spirituality and always willing to live in the sunshine of the Gospel. There is no quick fix, nor is there a moment where we can say ‘That’s it, I don’t have to try any more’. Following Jesus towards the kingdom of God is a worthy goal in our lives. However, we need to be aware of the kind of life journey this is and aware of our humanity as we journey together. For many, being a pilgrim follower of Jesus is what life is about. Always putting in the effort, some days more effort than others, but knowing nonetheless, that we are loved unconditionally and welcomed as wholeheartedly and lovingly as the prodigal son was. Jesus asks us to remind ourselves that we need to start with his love and then together, travel to a sense of faith, hope and love. Our journey is not a journey alone, but one with and for each other.

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Let us pray today for the whole Church all over the world; let us pray for our Pope as the focus of unity for Christians everywhere.

2.  Let us pray for those who, while remaining faithful to the core doctrine of the Church, are creatively finding new ways to proclaim the message of the kingdom to people everywhere.

3.  Let us pray for those places where the Church is working under great difficulties; even in pockets of our own lives and parishes.

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9 July, 2017 • Gospel: Matthew 11:25-30
Theme: Jesus reassures us that he is always gentle
and humble of heart


Sacred Space: Loving parent with baby/small bags to carry/ calming environmental space/peace lily

Homily: In today’s Gospel Jesus explains to us that no matter how sad or weakened from daily experiences we become, he is here, openhearted, loving, forgiving and championing us on. Jesus asks us to come to him and dwell in his love. He further explains to us that God reveals himself equally to children as well as adults through Jesus himself. This means that we should not walk away from the Word of God, scratching our heads, uttering that we are too puzzled and unable to understand it. Children appreciate the message of Jesus and so can each adult. Jesus tells us that he is humble and that he does not worry and stress all day! We can often end up worried and stressed over very little. When we think about it, children run free playing games and are eager to laugh and play with each other. They are not burdened with fretting and stressing about tomorrow. Jesus uses the notion of children being close to God and loving God in a full and complete way. He calls us to be like this in our whole and absolute love of God the Father. Listening to the Gospel and taking it into our hearts and minds is the first step into absolute love of God.

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Lord, we ask you to help us live with the humility and love of children, empower us to do your work in an absolute way.

2.  Gentle Jesus, forgive us for faltering as we work to love you more dearly, follow you more clearly and journey to the kingdom.

3.  Saving Spirit, together we pray for the Church as she encourages all of her pilgrims. Help her to heal the brokenness of our world.

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 16 July, 2017 • Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23
Theme: The good soil that lies in an open hear


Sacred Space: Soil/seeds/variety of plants perhaps brought to the altar

Homily: In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus shares God’s unconditional love with us. Jesus explains that when we hear the Word of God, we must work hard to leave our worries aside, rest our heart and let it be open to receive the golden nuggets of love that can be poured in. If we are receptive and open to listening to God’s Word, then we will actually hear it. If we are wound up, fretting about life, feeling down and lost, it can be harder to hear God speaking to us. For a moment, let’s think of our hearts and minds as computer hard drives! If our hard drives are filled with ‘bits’ of worry and other ‘bits’ of nagging doubt, arguments, pain, fear, lack of confidence and so on, there will be no room on our hard drives for God’s love. Jesus is asking us to clear out the negativity and doubt, the ‘noise’ of life. Open our hearts, prepare the soil for the seeds of God’s love. Too many times we have allowed his love to bounce off us and not take root. Jesus calls us to have ears that listen to the words of Jesus in the Gospel today. Allow this Gospel to settle in our souls and speak to our lives.

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Jesus, we ask you to help us prepare the soil of our hearts and minds so that we can nourish the seeds of God’s love in our daily lives.

2.  Jesus, we thank you for showing us the way and for helping us to listen.

3.  Jesus, we thank you for each other, praying together today, each trying to love the other.

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 23 July, 2017 • Gospel: Matthew 13:24-43
Theme: Listen! For the kingdom of God is here


Sacred Space: Hearts for the love of God/sowers/wheat

Homily: Today’s Gospel tells us about our faith in God. Our faith needs to be ‘actioned’ in our lives. This means that faith is relational and communal. We have a personal relationship with God and this relationship is made holy through prayer and developing our spirituality. However, our faith cannot be private, it must be ‘actioned’ in our lives. Therefore, we show our faith to others when we pray and celebrate at Mass but also when we are blessed and broken during any day of the week. When we offer a listening ear, when we share, when we show care and compassion, in fact each and every time we do a selfless task in the name of faith, we are sharing our faith with others. Jesus explains that no matter how small our faith-in-action may seem, when we work to allow our faith to guide and direct us, it will grow and blossom for all of our lives. Again Jesus urges us to ‘listen’! The kingdom of God is close at hand and we are being invited wholeheartedly to enter into it. If we do not listen and decide to ignore the Good News of God, we are excluding ourselves from the beauty and wonder of a joyous loving relationship with God that can guide and direct our daily lives.

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Forgiving God, empower us with your love and help us daily to have ears that listen.

2.  Saving Jesus, enable us to help each other on the road to the kingdom.

3.  Loving Father, embrace our efforts at loving you. We thank you for loving us.

 

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 30 July, 2017 • Gospel: Matthew13:44-52
Theme: The kingdom to be prized
beyond everything else


Sacred Space: Images of the kingdom of God depicting God’s love in and through the actions of others

Homily: This Sunday’s Gospel shares three different parables. Each parable names something that describes the kingdom of God. Through these parables Jesus explains to us that to know God and to live according to the Gospel are the most precious things in life. Over the past number of Sunday’s Jesus has been urging us to listen, to take note and to prepare ourselves to enter into the kingdom of God. Through Jesus and the Gospel, we come to know and understand what the real meaning of life is, what the most important things in life are. We know we have read this parable before. Jesus says, ‘Yes, of course you have!’ But Jesus is asking us again, ‘have you really heard it?’ This is the task Jesus is urging us to embrace. When we listen to the Gospel, it is of ultimate importance to hear it in every sense of the word. This means praying in response to it, living in accordance to it, and finally, loving God in and through our relationships and actions with each other in a free and all-embracing way. That is what having ears to listen actually means. Have we ears to listen, and to actually hear?

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Loving God, we want to hear your Word, we want to live in the light of your love and we want to show one another the love in our hearts.

2.  Gracious God, we pray for those who cannot hear your Word due to addictions, troubled hearts and lack of love in their own lives. Help all of us to embrace your love.

3.  Father God, we thank you for our mother Church that helps us and reminds us of your faith in us.

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 6 August, 2017 • Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9
Theme: On Holy Ground


Sacred Space: Mountain top/symbols of holy ground/quiet place created with sand and rocks

Homily: In this week’s Gospel Jesus explains to us that while we are on our journey towards God we experience high moments, times when we find ourselves on holy ground, and God shows himself. This can happen at Mass, at a First Holy Communion celebration any other sacramental celebration in our lives. We may also find ourselves on holy ground during many other blessed occasions, for example, at the birth of a baby or at the passing of a loved one. When St Peter witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus he realized he was on holy ground. He wanted to build a place to honour this. The voice of God calls the disciples to listen. They were in danger of being distracted by what they witnessed and might have missed the meaning that they had to listen closely. This is what Jesus has been asking us to do. If we really think about it, our entire lives are joined together by little stepping stones that are blessed and holy ground. We move from one holy stepping stone to the next trying not to lose our balance and fall in between! The disciples were encouraged because they saw Jesus in all his glory. We are called to take the time out to rest in this image and allow our lives to be blessed and holy today and tomorrow. This way we do not have to wait for the extraordinary events and delight in the ordinary every day.

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Lord God, we pray that we might embrace the blessings that we have received, the little ones as well as the momentous ones.

2.  Gentle God, we ask you to allow us to hear your Word in all its fullness and grace.

3.  Saving God, we thank you for your love, for sending Jesus, your only Son to love us through life and carry your love in person to us.

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 13 August, 2017 • Gospel: Matthew 14:23-33
Theme: Jesus Walks on Water


Sacred Space: Boat oars/rocks/footprints

Homily: The Gospel message this week is all about reaching out to Jesus when we need confidence and support. When Jesus walked on water he was showing us how powerful our faith can be. Peter began to walk on the water but when the wind became stronger and his vulnerability began to show, he began to sink. Jesus gave out to him saying ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ In this line Jesus is saying to us, don’t doubt your belief in God, don’t allow doubt and unrest to take hold of your mind as it will overwhelm you and take control of you. When Jesus called Peter, he wanted him to go to him filled with faith, hope and love. Peter showed his humanity and became afraid. This is who we are, we too like Peter falter and sink at times. Jesus urges us on and will always reach out to save us, if we just ask.

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Humble Jesus, we love you with all of our hearts, minds and bodies. Allow us to recognise our vulnerability and always be ready to start again.

2.  Loving Jesus, in times of doubt and sorrow, help us not to lose our way and falter, always secure in the knowledge that you are always calling us with open arms to come to you.

3.  Saving Jesus, we thank you for St Peter’s successor, Pope Francis. We ask you to help him stay strong and healthy as he continues to lead us on our way to God.

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 20 August, 2017 • Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28
Theme: The Faith of the Canaanite Woman


Sacred Space: Many candles lit in trays of sand.

Homily: In today’s Gospel we hear the story of the Canaanite woman who shows her intense faith to Jesus. She shows her strength and conviction by not giving up, even though Jesus did not seem too keen to listen to her. However this woman recognized Jesus, she knew he was the one to save and heal her daughter. She did not allow her faith to become immersed in doubt, she pursued Jesus.

     Sometimes we may not be able to recognize the presence of Jesus in our lives. Our humanity and vulnerability can easily distract us, causing us to lose our way. But the Canaanite woman shows us how to be strong, to be determined and to work hard in our faith and through our relationship with Jesus.

     Jesus will answer our prayers, Jesus will grant us healing and love. Like the woman in today’s Gospel we are empowered to follow Jesus, so we are encouraged to be energized and complete in our relationship.

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Lord God, we bless all the Canaanite women and men in our community, keep them faithful and strong in their pursuit of healing faith.

2.  Gracious God, thank you for showing us the way of faith in and through your blessed Son, Jesus.

3.  Healing God, we pray for all who falter and fail. We pray that each person can survive their doubt and lack of vigour for faith.

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 27 August, 2017 • Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20
Theme: Peter declares faith in Jesus and is promised the keys of the kingdom


Sacred Space: Keys/image of St Peter/Vatican City/rocks

Homily: In today’s Gospel Jesus chooses Peter to be the leader of the Church. The name Peter means ‘rock’. It is significant that we often call people we love and whom we know care and love us, our ‘rock’. Jesus asked Peter what the others said about him, but he really only cared what Peter thought. He knew that Peter was listening with an open heart and a blessed mind to God’s word. Jesus knew that Peter was answering his question with openness, integrity and honesty. For Peter, Jesus was not another great or admirable figure, he was the ‘One’ who would transform his life forever. Jesus chose this new name for Peter to symbolize the stability and steadfastness of the Church that would be a constant when Jesus was no longer on earth. We can look to St Peter’s successor Pope Francis for direction and healing. Pope Francis brings us the Good News and the joy of the Gospel. He wants us to be in relationship with Jesus and to practice our spirituality and to live according to his will.

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Blessed God, help us to love you more deeply in and through the doctrine of the Church.

2.  Loving God, help us to lead and guide each other towards the kingdom of God, just as St Peter led us.

3.  Holy God, we bless our Pope and each other as we do all that we can to share your love in and through our relationships with each other.

 

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Orla Walsh is a Deputy Principal in

St Vincent’s Secondary School,

Dundalk, Co Louth

Email walshorla@icloud.com

 

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