How to Act When You're Really Important
Opening Question: Are there bullies at your school? How many friends do they have? How many enemies?
First Reading: Sirach 3:17-19
No one liked Billy because he was a bully. He was loud and proud; he always laughed at other people's problems. Billy was always in trouble at school and at home.
Jack was probably the only person who liked Billy. For some reason, Jack thought Billy was cool. Jack always tried to hang around with Billy. But Billy didn't like the attention Jack gave him, so Billy always made fun of Jack.
One day, Jack had enough of Billy's abuse. Jack saw through Billy's bad jokes and hurtful comments. But, more important, Jack began to ask "What makes someone cool? What makes them popular?" The more Jack looked around, the more he saw the kind of person he wanted to be. Someone who was nice, who always helped others, who always thought of others feelings. Slowly, Jack tried to be like this person.
People began to notice changes in Jack. No longer did Jack hang out with Billy; Jack was now asking other people how he could help them. Soon, Jack had a new set of friends, more than he could possible could have imagined.
One day, Billy walked up to Jack and made a rude comment. But Jack saw that Billy, too, wanted to be a friend. So, Jack asked Billy how he could help. Billy was surprised by Jack's response, but Billy could see that Jack's wish to help was real. That day Jack and Billy did become friends; that day Billy stopped being a bully.
The opposite of a bully is someone nice. What does it take to change a bully into someone nice. Ask how you can help them.
Bridging Question: Why do people want to go to parties? Why do people want to throw parties?
Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14
One Sabbath, Jesus went to eat at the house of an important Pharisee. The Pharisees there kept a close eye on Jesus.
Jesus noticed how the guests were picking the best seats. So he told them a parable. "Whenever someone invites you to dinner," Jesus said to the guests, "don't sit in the place of honor. After all, the host might have invited someone more important than you. Since he invited you and him, the host will come up to you and say, 'Give your place to this person.' Then, you will be embarrassed because you will have to take the seat in the back. Instead, whenever you're invited, go and take the seat in the back. When the host visits to your place, he will say, 'My friend, take a seat closer to me.' Then you will be honored by everyone who attended the dinner with you. For anyone who tries to make himself important will be humbled. But the humble will be made important."
Then Jesus told the host, "Whenever you give a luncheon or dinner banquet, don't invite your friends or brothers, your family or rich neighbors. After all, they will invite you to their parties and pay you back. Instead, when you give a party, invite the poor, the sick, the crippled, and the blind. You will be really happy, because they have no way to repay you. You will be paid back by God when he raises the good people at the end of time."
Why do people go to parties? To have fun?
Hillary went to the festival early to hang out with her friends. She wanted to become the most popular person in her group, so she made everyone favors and wrote down topics so she could talk with everyone.
Hillary arrived slightly late, so everyone would see her. She began to visit groups of twos and threes. She would focus on the people she thought were popular, ask them questions so they would share, and give party favors. Toward the end of the festival, Hillary had talked to over 50 people. When she got home that night, she made notes of the important people she spoke with and the thing they were interested in. With what she learned, Hillary would be the most informed person in her group. And well on her way to be the most popular.
Jacqueline went to the school dance so she could spy on the boy she liked, Devon. She hung around to see him and even tried to have her friends talk with the him.
"Go on, Sylvia," Jacqueline urged her friend. "Talk to him for me! You sit right next to Devon in English." Embarrassed, Sylvia went over to talk to her classmate.
The girls buzzed about Jacqueline and her crush. "Why won't he ask her to dance?" they asked in whispers.
Sally's birthday was soon coming. Her mother promised her party, so Sally made up a list of everyone she could think of, so she could get the most number of presents. "Sam can get me the pop singer doll I want. Erika can get me the make-up kit. Mandy can get me some jewelry," Sally mused. "Or they can bring cash. And I can get the CD player I want."
Sally kept bothering her mother about decorations, games, and food. "We have to keep everyone happy," Sally demanded. "After all, we do want people to come to the party!"
Three different girls with three different reasons to go to or to have a party. One wants to be popular, one wants to have a boy friend, one wants presents. Some people go to parties and have parties to get something, not to give something. Jesus, however, turned that thinking upside down. He taught us if you want more friends, start by being a true friend. Think of others and help them. Jesus also taught us not to worry about getting more stuff like presents; he said to give to others who need the help. God will give you everything that is good.
Closing Question: How can you be a good friend at a party? How can you give a great party to your friends? How does the advice of Jesus help you?