Changing for the Better
Opening Question: Do you like to wear clothes with brand names or sayings on them? What is the brand name or saying? Why do you like it?
First Reading: Baruch 5:1-9
When Johnny wasn't in school, he was never without his hat. The hat simply said "Power Connection." When he wore the hat, some people would come up and ask him what it meant. When he wore the hat, he could look out and see peoples' reactions to the hat. He was proud of that hat and what it meant. But, what did the hat mean? Was it a club or gang hat? Did Johnny like a particular brand named "Power Connection?" Why was Johnny proud of the hat?
The prophet Baruch is telling the people to be like Johnny. Put on clothes of pride and a crown that has one word on it: "God!" Back up your pride by treating people fairly. Show everyone that the pride in your faith and your actions say one thing: "Respect!"
Johnny was proud of his hat because it reminded him where he got his power: God. The power to help people, the power to love people. God was Johnny's power connection and he's our power connection, too.
Bridging Question: If you could change one thing in your lives to make it better, what would it be?
Gospel: Luke 3:1-6
After Tiberias Ceasar had ruled the Roman Empire for fifteen years, the word of God came to John in the desert. During that time, Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. In Jerusalem, Annas first, then Caiaphas, were the chief priests in the Temple.
John traveled up and down the Jordan river valley. Everywhere he went, he proclaimed, "Get baptized! This will show everyone you turned your hearts and lives over to God, so he can forgive your sins!" This was just like Isaiah the prophet wrote:
"There is a voice crying out in the desert,
Get the road ready for the Lord!
Straighten the way for him!
Every ditch will be filled in.
Every hill will be leveled.
The winding areas will be straightened
and the rocky roads will be made smooth.
Then everyone will see God's salvation!"
Malorie had an average day at school and a typical evening at home. She played after school, then did homework before dinner. After dinner, she did more homework, watched a little television, then went to bed.
Malorie dozed off. Then she woke up. She couldn't sleep that night. She tossed and turned all night long, as she tried to figure out what was wrong. As she thought, she went through her family and friends one by one. "Did they hurt me? How? Why? What can I say to them to get back at them?" she pondered. The more she thought, the angrier she got. She had to get back at the people who did her wrong.
At 3:00 in the morning, she got up, turned on the light, and began to write down what she was thinking. But something funny happened. What she wrote down was not the anger she felt. In stead, Malorie began to see the hurt through others eyes. She stopped asking, "How did these people hurt me?" She began to ask: "How did I hurt these people?" Her writing turned into letters of apology and love. After only twenty minutes, she finished, went to bed, and promptly went to sleep.
The next morning, Malorie jumped out of bed in joy. She ran down stairs, into the kitchen, and up to her mother. She gave her mother the biggest hug she could. "What's going on?" her mother asked surprised. "Nothing, mom," Malorie said. "I just love you, that's all."
In today's reading, John the Baptist call us to change so see things differently, just like Malorie. This is a perfect time to change. It's a perfect time not to get as angry at our brothers or sisters. It's a perfect time to give moms and dads, grandparents and cousins, more hugs. It's a perfect time to share more with others, especially those who do not have as much as we do. It's a perfect time to think less of ourselves and more of others.
Closing Questions: Why is this a perfect time to share with others? What can we share with others? How can we share those things with others?