Being Close Friends
Opening Question: How do you make friends? Has a stranger ever become your friend? What happened?
First Reading: Acts 13:14-16,43-52
The guards led the apostles into the hall and made them stand before the council of religious leaders. The high priest began the questioning, "We gave you very strict orders not to teach in the name of Jesus. But, no! You have filled Jerusalem with your teachings about him. And, you insist on blaming us for his death!"
"It's more important to obey God than men," Peter and the apostles answered. "You abused Jesus and even hanged him on a tree to die. But, the God of our ancestors raised him from the dead. God brought Jesus up to sit right next to him. And he made Jesus our Leader and Savior. That way, Jesus could turn Israel back to God and forgive their sins. We are eye witnesses to our own words. The Holy Spirit is also our witness. He is the one God gave to everyone who obeys him!"
Later, the apostles were brought back into the hall. The leaders had them beaten and ordered the apostles never to speak about Jesus ever again. Then, they released them. But, the apostles left the leaders happy that they were worthy to be mistreated because of the name of Jesus.
Everyone at school knew that James and Kelly were enemies. James hung around with the skaters and didn't like school. On the other hand, Kelly liked loved school, he liked to read and play inside. They were as different as night and day. Because they shared nothing in common, they made no secret of their dislike for each other.
One day, there was competition that placed one grade against another academically and athletically. Each grade had a team and the students in each grade chose the teams. The students chose both James and Kelly to be on the same team. "Oh, no!" exclaimed one student. "James and Kelly hate each other too much to work together. Now we're never going to win!"
But the students were surprised when Kelly approached James on the competition. Soon, Kelly was helping James on his study skills and James was helping Kelly on his sports skills.
When the day of the competition came, James walked up to Kelly and patted him on the back for luck. Kelly turned and smiled at his former enemy. Both of them were helping each other win the competition.
Sometimes the activities or hobbies you share can make you friends. But sometimes helping others with their needs makes better friends. James helped Kelly with his sports skills; Kelly helped James with his study skills. Both became better people and better friends.
Paul came to his fellow Jews with the good news of Jesus. As a Jew, Paul shared many things with the people he grew up with, he prayed with, and he studied with. But they did not accept his message. So, Paul went to strangers, so he could tell them about Jesus. They accepted the message Paul offered them; soon these strangers became friends, better friends than Paul ever had.
What talent can you share with others to help them be better people?
Bridging Question: Do you have a pet? What kind of pet do you have? How do you show love to your pet?
Gospel: John 10:27-30
Jesus told the people:
The sheep of my flock hear me calling them.
I know each of them.
And they all follow me.
I give them a life with God that will never end,
so they wouldn't be lost when times get tough.
No one can take them out of my care.
My Father gave me all my followers.
He is greater than everything.
No one can take them out of my Father's care.
Readers 1 and 2:
My Father and I are one.
No one in Jessie's car liked driving home from Grandma's house. The drive took two long days, with few breaks. To waste the time away, Jessie's family would make up silly games.
They played one game that stated a conversation. "What animal would you like to be?" Jessie's dad suddenly asked everyone. "Why?" he kept asking anyone who gave an answer. And he got plenty of answers. "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" Jessie's father teased. His mother groaned. No one else in the car got the bad joke Jessie's father made about the "Wizard of Oz."
Then it was Jessie's turn. Jessie was silent as he looked out his window. Suddenly, Jessie saw a shepherd tending his sheep. And his mind filled with ideas. "I don't know if I would like to be an animal. But I'd like to be a shepherd," Jessie said as he pointed out the window at the flock.
"Why?" his father asked.
"Dad, a shepherd is special person," Jessie answered. "The sheep in the flock become the shepherd's pets. The shepherd has a name for each of his sheep. The shepherd takes care of the each sheep by inspecting them for disease and injury. He plays with the sheep. The shepherd even hugs his sheep and gives them loving attention. He spends a lot of their time alone with the sheep."
"Maybe you'd like to be a sheep. It's a dumb as you!" Jessie's brother said sarcastically.
Before his mother or father could correct his brother, Jessie jumped right in. "Sheep are not that dumb of an animal," Jessie continued. "Sheep can be taught tricks. The one trick every sheep learns is to come when the shepherd calls them. Even when many flocks are put together, each shepherd can call his flock out with their unique whistle or yell. The sheep hear the call of their shepherd and come out to follow the shepherd."
For a while, everyone rode in silence. Then, Jessie's father said, "You learned this in school. I'm impressed!"
Like a shepherd, Jesus has a unique call. We hear him in the words of the Bible, in the Eucharist, in our family and friends. He calls us to become better people by doing good things and helping others. He calls us to be his friends and the friends of others.
But he offers us more than friendship; he offers us life forever with God the Father, now and in heaven. To be one with Jesus and his Father, all we have to do is to say "Yes." "Yes" to his friendship. "Yes" to his love. "Yes" to the love of others around us.
Closing Question: How can you hear the call of Jesus today? How can you say "Yes" to his call and his love?