Opening Question: Who do you know is really good at sports? At school?
First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 14-19
Jackie liked school. She was good at studying, doing reports and presentations, and discussing current events. She even liked to help others with their school work. But, if there was one thing Jackie hated about school, it was physical education. You see, she really wasn't that good at sports.
One day, the coach assigned two girl as basketball captains and had the girls line up so the captains could choose teams. As usual, Jackie was last to be chosen. As usual, Jackie tried to play defense. And, as usual, Jackie just walked from basket to basket. But this time, the coach saw her and called her aside.
"What's the matter, Jackie?" the coach asked. "Oh," Jackie sighed, "I don't like to play basketball. I'm just not that good at it."
The coach signaled the girls to play on, while she took Jackie to another court. For the next 20 minutes, the coach showed Jackie how to hold the ball, shoot free throws, and play a little defense. At first Jackie was clumsy, but with the coach's encouragement, she did not give up. From that day on, Jackie practiced the skills of basketball.
A year later, Jackie was not the last one to be chosen at basketball. In fact, she went out for league play and was one the teams' better players.
How many people have helped you like the coach in the story? How many people have you helped?
When we sin, we hurt others and ourselves. The worst way we can hurt ourselves is to say four little words "I can't do it." Like Jackie, Jeremiah didn't think he could do what God wanted him to. Like the coach, God encouraged Jeremiah by saying "Yes you can."
Bridging Question: How do you feel when people don't believe in you? How can you change their minds about you?
Gospel: Luke 4:15, 22-30
Jesus read from Isaiah the prophet. Then, he told the people there, "Today, this Scripture reading came true as you heard it!"
At first, everyone was happy with Jesus. They were really amazed at what he said! So, they began to say, "Isn't this just Joseph's son?"
So Jesus spoke up, "You really want to tell me, 'Doctor, heal now! We heard what happened in Capernaum. Do the same things here!' Listen! No preacher is accepted in his hometown. Listen again! In the time of Elijah, there were many widows in Israel when it stopped raining for three and one half years. And there was a great famine everywhere. God didn't sent Elijah to any of them except to the widow Serepta from foreign town of Sidon. In the time of Elisha the prophet, there were many lepers in Israel. None of them were cured except Nanaam, the foreigner from Syria."
When they heard his words, everyone in the synagogue got really angry. They stood up and threw Jesus outside Nazareth. Then, they led him up to the edge of hill on which the city was built. They were going to throw down to the bottom of the hill. But, Jesus walked away right through them.
Unlike Jackie, Charlie had no problem with self-esteem. In fact, he was the class clown. He loved to make students laugh with his jokes. And he didn't care if the teacher didn't like him.
The problem with being the class clown is simple: no one takes you seriously, not classmates, not the teacher. So, when the time came for Student Council elections, no one took Charlie seriously when he volunteered to run for classroom representative.
"Come on, Charlie," a classmate said, "we need someone to do the work!" That comment just made Charlie mad. "I can too!" Charlie shot back. That started an argument. Eventually, Charlie walked away with hurt feelings.
Has anyone ever told you that you couldn't do something? What happened?
There is something that hurts worse that doubting yourself. "You can't do it" hurts worse than "I can't do it." It especially hurts when the people who know you, who are close to you, say the words. That's what happened to Jesus. But unlike Charlie, Jesus had a reputation as a healer and a wise teacher. But, no one at his hometown accepted him. So he walked away.
Pray for those people who have told us we can't do something.