Opening Question: Where are people the safest? Have you ever felt really safe? Where?
First Reading: Daniel 12:1-3
Jamie felt alone that cold day. While she was playing at recess, her mother came to school to tell her some sad news. "Jamie, Grandma died today," her mom whispered to her. "We need to go home and prepare for the funeral." Lost in their own thoughts about Grandma, the ride home was so silent that it hurt.
Everyone loved Grandma, especially Jamie. Grandma gave big hugs and lots of kisses. About Grandma, Jamie felt love and she felt safe. Now Grandma was gone; so were Jamie's feelings of safety and care.
At the funeral, Jamie thought of Grandma. "If I felt loved and safe about Grandma, where did she feel loved and safe?" Jamie thought.
Then she remembered a poem called "Footprints" on the wall of Grandma's house. The poem talked about how a person walked with Jesus and, as they looked back, they could see two sets of footprints in the sand, the footprints of the person and those of Jesus. But then the person saw only one set of footprints in the sand. "See the single set of footprints," the person pointed out to Jesus, "those were the times you left me alone and unsafe. I had to walk by myself." "No, you weren't walking by yourself," replied Jesus with love in his voice. "Those were the times I carried you in my arms."
Jamie's train of thought was broken by the priest's words. "Grandma is in the arms of Jesus today," the priest said. "Someday we will be with Grandma again, when we all rise from the dead." At that point, Jamie felt at peace. She knew that Grandma was safe and loved in the arms of Jesus.
Many of us know someone who has died: a grand parent, cousin, or next door neighbor. Because they are not with us we might get scared. But those people we love and who loved others are in the arms of Jesus. And they will be with us again when we all rise to a new life, just like Jesus rose on Easter.
Bridging Question: Why are people afraid of the future?
Gospel: Mark 13:22-23,26-32
Jesus told his followers:
"In the time after the Great Testing,
the sun will be dark,
and the moon will not reflect the sun's light.
The stars will fall from the sky,
and everything in the sky will be shaken up.'
Then people will see the Son of Man come in the clouds with great power. He will send his messengers and gather all believers from every corner of the earth.
Look at the fig tree. When you see its branches are green and spouting leaves, you know summer will come soon. When you see everything I described happen, you will know it is near, even at the door to your house. Listen! This generation will definitely not die until all these things happen! Heaven and earth may die away, but my words will never die away.
Nobody, not even the angels in heaven or the Son, knows exactly when these things will happen. Only the Father really knows."
Three year old George ran into the kitchen after he watched the news. On the television, he saw some people shouting: "The world is going to end!" George was very afraid and grabbed onto his mom tightly.
Just then, George's brother walked into the room and began to laugh at George. "You're a scared!" his brother teased, "It's only some crazy people on TV! 'The world is going to end! The world is going to end!' Get real, George!"
George's mother knew different. "You're are scared, George, but that's okay," his mother reassured him. "We all get scared, but we have each other and God." After his mom held George for a few moments, he felt better.
In this new century, many people are thinking about the future. Think about all the things you have heard. Faster computers, better video games, newer cars. A lot of things to get excited about.
There are people who are afraid of the future. Some fear war and starvation. Some fear the loss of the ozone and the warming of the earth. Some even think the end of the world is coming.
The difference between those people who are afraid and those who welcome the future is trust. Those who trust God and the people around them will be okay; those who are afraid stay in fear. We can be afraid of hurt and death and the unknown, or we can believe that God will take care of everything. Those who fail are the ones who are afraid and never try; those who trust and try, win.
Closing Question: How does trust in your family and friends help you when you are afraid? How does your trust in God help you when you're scared?