Opening Question: What's the most important rule at school? Why is it the most important?
First Reading: Deuteronomy 5:12-15
Moses was the first, great leader of the Israelites. He led God's people to freedom, as many of you saw in the movie, "The Prince of Egypt." In the last scene of the move, Moses came down the mountain with two stone tablets in his hands. On that stone, God wrote the Ten Commandments, his important rules for living.
The Ten Commandments stressed one word: "respect!" The first three commandments tell us to respect God. The last seven tell us to respect others. How can we respect God?
The first commandment is simple: God is first in life.
The second commandment is also simple: Respect God's name.
The third commandment is a little harder to understand: respect God's day. What is God's day? It is a day to pray, like you're doing right now. It's also a day to enjoy people. It's a day for picnics and parties. It's a day to rest and play. It's meant to be a day away from work and school. And a day to be God's creatures.
Let us remember the commandments Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai are for our good. Respecting God is good for us all. After all, he did give us a day off from work one day a week!
Bridging Question: What is the least important rule at school? Why is it the least important?
Gospel: Mark 3:1-6
One Sabbath, Jesus and his followers walked in the wheat fields. His followers began to pluck the grain from the stalks for a snack to eat. "Look!" the Pharisees said to Jesus. "It's against God's Law to farm on the Sabbath. Why are your followers disobeying God's Law?"
"Didn't you read in the Bible what David did when he and his friends were hungry?"Jesus replied. "When Abiathar was the high priest, David and his friends went into God's holy place. David ate the holy bread that no one but the priests were allowed to eat. And David shared the bread with his friends!"
Then Jesus said, "God created the Sabbath for people, not the other way around. So, the Son of Man is master of the Sabbath."
Some people, like Kevin, broke rules all the time. Some people, like Philip, kept every rule. Which one is right?
Kevin and Philip attended the same class at school. Kevin, of course, got in trouble a lot. But, Philip was a perfect angel. Because of their attitudes, neither liked each other. In fact, people hated hanging around with either of them, especially if they were in the same room. People could feel the icy stares the boys shot at each other.
One day, the boy's teacher was called out of class on an emergency. The teacher gave them an assignment to complete quietly. As soon as the teacher left the room, Kevin started to act out. He talked to his friends, he made jokes, he began to run up and down the aisles. That was too much for Phillip, who suddenly stood up and began to yell at Kevin. "What do you think your doing? You know you're supposed to be working silently. You're fooling around and I can't concentrate!"
That started the name calling. Both boys got out of control in the argument. Just before one threw a punch, the teacher came in to the room. "What's going on?" the teacher demanded. Kevin and Phillip made claims about the other. And tried to take the blame off themselves. In the end, both boys went to the vice principal's office.
The next day, both boys returned to class. And both were very quiet. At the end of the day, the teacher called both boys together and asked a simple question: "What have you learned?"
"To work and follow the rules," Kevin said in a way the told everyone he didn't really mean it. The teacher ignored Kevin's attitude, turned to Philip and asked the same question.
"To work and follow the rules!" Phillip said to get under Kevin's skin. The teacher ignored Philip's attitude, as well.
"Do you know what I learned?" the teacher said.
The question surprised both boys. "What?" they said together.
"I learned rules aren't as important as respect," the teacher said quietly. "Rules are meant to build up respect. When I had to leave the room yesterday, I left with an assignment. I left hoping you would respect each other. But neither of you did. It's obvious I can't trust you two until you respect each other. Gentlemen, we'll talk tomorrow."
The following day, both boys were quiet. And the teacher called up both boys at the end of the day to ask him the same question. "What have you learned?"
This time, Kevin answered differently, "I learned when I mess around in class, people laugh. But they're not laughing with me, they're laughing at me. They might be having a great time, but they really don't respect me."
Philip answered differently, too. "I learned just keeping the rules is not enough. I can keep the rules, but I won't make any friends. I need to respect people."
"Well, gentlemen," the teacher said, "what are you going to do? How are you going to respect each other."
Philip turned to Kevin and said "I'm sorry. I'd like to be your friend." Philip held out his hand for a handshake. Kevin looked stunned, then took Philip hand in a handshake. "I'd like to be your friend, too." From that point on, friendship meant respect for both boys.
Kevin and Philip learned the hard way what Jesus was trying to say. Rules are made for people. People are not made for rules. But people need to keep rules, not just to "be" good, but to show respect for others. And respect for God.
Reflection Questions: Which rules help you to respect other people? How have they helped?