People Are Valuable
Opening Question: Does anyone have a loyal friend? What makes them loyal?
First Reading: Exodus 32:7-11,13-14
Jack and Freddie were at a convenience store to get a snack. Jack only had 50 cents while Freddie had $5.00. Looking at the candy, Jack realized he did not have enough money, so he quietly took some and hide it in his pocket.
At the other end of the store, Freddie was getting a large cola freeze and a hot dog. Freddie went to the counter and paid. But, as Freddie walked out with Jack, the manager told the two boys to stop. Jack ran off, while Freddie froze in his tracks. The manager began to yell at Freddie: 'Your friend ripped me off!' The manager ranted and raged on.
Finally, Freddie was able to say something. 'You know I'm a good customer and I always pay for what buy.' The manager became silent, because he knew Freddie was right. 'I like coming into this store,' Freddie continued. 'So, here take the rest of my money to pay for what my friend took. Please accept my apology for him.' Freddie placed the money in the manager's hand and quietly left.
The manager was stunned. He didn't know what to say. He put the money in money register and made a note of the theft.
Later on, Freddie returned to the store to buy another cola freeze. But when he got to the counter, the manager smiled and said: 'I remember you. You were fair to me and loyal to your friend. I admire that. So, this drink's on me!' With that, the manager handed Freddie back his money.
While the people disobeyed God's commandments, Moses stood up for them. Moses, like Freddie, represented his friends. Sometimes we are called to stand up for others, even when they do wrong. Why would we do it? Because our friends are worth it!
Bridging Question: Have you ever lost something valuable? Did you find it? What happened?
Gospel: Luke 15:1-10
Once, the tax collectors and sinners crowded around Jesus to listen to him. But the Pharisees and religious leaders there began to grumble, 'This man is the friend of sinners! He even goes to parties with them!'
Jesus answered with a story. 'Imagine you had a hundred sheep. But one got lost,' Jesus said. 'Which one of you wouldn't leave the ninety-nine in the back country to go look for the lost sheep? When the shepherd found the lost sheep, he would be so happy! He would put it on his shoulders, go back home, and call his friends together. 'Let's have a party!' he would beam. 'I found my lost sheep!' In the same way, heaven will be happier with one sinner who turns back to God than with ninety-nine good people who don't feel the need to turn back.
'Or, imagine a poor woman who had ten small coins. If she lost a coin, wouldn't she light up the room, sweep it, and look all around until she found it? When she found it, she would call her friends together. 'Let's celebrate!' she would beam. 'I found my lost coin!' In the same way, the angels are really happy when one sinner returns to God.'
Jackie loved her cell phone. She got calls and made calls anywhere, anytime. She loved the freedom the phone gave her. And she loved the way she could keep in touch with her friends.
One day, that all changed. Somewhere on Sunday, she lost the cell phone. At first, she kept cool as she thought about where she left it. 'Did I leave it at Mandy's house? Or at the park?' she wondered. 'No, I remember having the phone after I left the park.' She began to make mental notes when and where she had the phone. But, it was no good.
Soon, she called Mandy. 'Did you see my phone?' she asked her friend in a half-nice, half-frustrated tone. 'Please look,' she pleaded. Mandy looked, but to no avail.
Soon, Jackie got so frustrated, she no longer felt like being nice. At home, she frantically looked every place she could think of. Even places she knew the phone wouldn't be. Under her breathe, she began to blame others for losing the phone. 'What did you do with it, Mom!' Jackie exclaimed in a loud whisper. Thank goodness, no one heard her.
At the end of her patience, Jackie flung herself on her bed and let out a loud groan. She was ready to give up. She looked everywhere, she thought. But then, her eyes gazed on an object filled with rumbled clothes. 'The laundry!' Jackie exclaimed. She jumped off the bed and torn into the one place she failed to look. Within a half minute, she found her phone.
Without a chance to think, she tapped Mandy's number onto the phone's keypad. 'Mandy! I found my phone!' Jackie nearly shouted into the receiver. It seemed Jackie was never as happy as the moment she found her prized possession.
'Why are you hanging around with no-good people?' the Pharisee seemed to ask Jesus. If the people were no good, Jesus wasn't any good either.
But Jesus did not see people as worthless. In fact, he saw them as treasures, like the lost sheep or the lost coin or Jackie's lost cell phone. Something so valuable they are worth finding, respecting, and showing them God.
Closing Question: How do you feel as God's treasure? How do you see your family and friends as God's treasure?