Hope in the Lord
Opening Question: What do students hope in today? Why does that person or thing give them hope?
First Reading: Isaiah 35:4-6
Jackie was having a down day. When she got home from school, she quietly went up into her room to be alone. Help me with the story. What caused her gloomy mood? (Bad grade at school, a fight with her friend, being bullied by an older student.)
Henry, Jackie's brother, came home happy. He sang and skipped his way into the house. What caused his happiness? (Good grade, fun with his friends, conquering another challenge.)
Henry whistled as he went into his room. Suddenly he realized Jackie was home. Henry opened her door and began to tell her about his day. What happened? Could Henry help Jackie out of her bad mood? How? Help me finish the story.
In today's reading, Isaiah is talking to people who have little hope: those who cannot see, those who cannot hear, those who are crippled, those who cannot speak. He says to them, "Have hope! God is coming to save you."
Like the blind, sometimes people look, but they do not see. Like the deaf, sometimes they hear something, but they're really not listening. Like the cripple, sometimes they want to get going, but they do not move. Like those who cannot speak, sometimes they know they should say something, but they stay silent. How can we help those people to have hope?
Bridging Question: What would happen if people had no hope?
Gospel: Mark 7:31-37
After Jesus left the town of Tyre, he traveled through the town of Sidon to Lake Galilee, right through the area of the Ten Cities. There, the people brought Jesus a man who could not hear and who could barely speak. After Jesus took the man away so the two of them could be alone, he put his fingers into the man's ears. Then, after Jesus spit, he touched the man's tongue. Finally, Jesus looked to heaven, groaned, and said to the man, "Open up!" Now the man could hear, his speech problem was gone, and he could speak clearly.
"Don't talk about what just happened," Jesus commanded the people. But the more he commanded, the more they people talked about it with everyone they saw. They were so surprised that they kept saying, "Jesus does everything well! He even heals those who can't hear and those can't speak!"
"Stop making so much noise!" Grandma yelled. That was the first time Bobbie knew something was wrong. Grandma never yelled or got mad. She would let Bobbie know when she was serious, but she never raised her voice. Even though Grandma apologized to Bobbie, the girl knew her mom's mother did not feel well.
A few weeks later, Bobbie's worst fears were realized. Grandma had cancer. Bobbie could see the sad looks in her parents' eyes. Everyone loved Grandma. No one in the family wanted to lose such a wonderful person.
To Bobbie, it seemed like an impossible situation. Grandma was taking treatment called "chemotherapy." Grandma's face grew pale. Her hair fell out. She could barely move from the pain she felt. Walking from her bedroom to the bathroom was a great undertaking. Bobbie's mother took extra time off from work to help Grandma feel comfortable.
One day, Bobbie's mother and Grandma came back from the doctor. Bobbie heard her mother whisper something to her dad about Grandma's test. At first, her dad's head was lowered, listening intensely. Then he raised his head. And his face beamed with a huge smile. Bobbie knew the results. "That's too good to be true!" exclaimed Bobbie. "That's the best news I've heard in a long time!"
Month after month, Bobbie's family prayed and hoped for a miracle. In her sad heart, Bobbie did not think grandmother would live very long. But, when the news came about grandmother's tests, Bobbie's sadness turned to joy. The treatment worked. Grandmother's cancer was going away!
Like Bobbie, the people in the story wanted a miracle, a sign that would give them hope. When Jesus cured the deaf man, he gave the people hope. They got excited about Jesus. Maybe Jesus wasn't ready for the people to talk about him. But the people were ready to talk about Jesus. He gave them hope. He gives us hope, too.
Closing Questions: Have you ever had your prayers answered? What happened? How has God given you hope?