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Youth Ministry Resources - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matt 13:1-23 - Parable of the Sower - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

This well known and well loved parable resonates with most people because we can all relate to the idea of God's Word being received more by some people than others. It is testament to the strength of this parable that it continues to be received in the 21st Century just as clearly as when it was directed to rural workers sitting by the lake listening to Jesus in 1st Century Palestine. The experience of the sower would have been quite commonplace among those listening to Jesus.

Jesus is telling this parable to offer encouragement to his disciples who are surprised when the good news of the Basileia or Kingdom of God is not accepted by more people. Some of the disciples were feeling discouraged because they felt that Reign of God movement would lead to commitment from fellow Jews rather than the conflict they were experiencing at the synagogue.

While we can translate the parable into the Third millennium experience of hearing God's word, we are less concerned with the sower who appears to distribute the seed rather carelessly because the focus is more on when we are receptive to 'hearing' God's Word. There are times in our lives when we represent the 'good soil' but there are also times when we are the less receptive soil.

This parable reminds us of the constant generosity of God's love, again and again, God offers us the opportunity to bear fruit, to live lives that attract other people to the reality of the Reign of God in our world. Today there is a significant amount of apathy about Christianity and in some cases there is organised opposition to the institutional Church and so this parable offers us hope and encouragement in the difficulties we face.

Today we see less people coming to mass and a growing indifference across a whole generation about to the importance of God in their lives. We live in a safe, wealthy country where the majority of people have more than the basics of life so it is easy to fall into the busyness of everyday life, feel self sufficient and squeeze God out. That is why it is so important that those who have heard the Word of God and understand it bring that experience of love into our neighbourhood, our workplace, our families, our friends. This is how we can contribute to God's harvest one hundredfold.

Cate Mapstone

Year C: Luke 10:25-37 - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The story of the Good Samaritan is one we are all familiar with and unfortunately it is easy to dismiss or not listen as carefully to stories we have heard recounted so frequently. Firstly, Jesus is telling this story to Jews and as far as Jews were concerned, there was no such thing as a 'good' Samaritan - they were the enemy, they had rejected the one true God and developed their own religion and so they were the worst of human beings. In our day and age,' the worst' would include drug dealers, war lords, terrorists and evil dictators. Jesus is challenging the mindset of his listeners and that includes us. In the 1st Century Mediterranean culture the core social values of honour and shame are central to this story. The lawyer is trying to shame Jesus by showing how little Jesus understands the Law. The testing concerns the role of God's law in salvation. Jesus answers (1) the Law is valid and (2) non-Jews who observe the law inherit eternal life - even Samaritans.

The challenge in this story is about mindset or the perspective we bring to making decisions. The lawyer's mindset starts with who belongs to God's people and is therefore an object of neighbourly love? Jesus turns this around and asks about the conduct demanded of a member of God's chosen people. Jesus insists that it does not matter who needs help, it is the role of a Christian to help regardless of who it is. This challenge by Jesus to our mindset or attitude, is made to us this day. What is our attitude to other people? How do we see other people? What goes through our minds when we encounter a Muslim, an aborigine, a homeless person, an intoxicated person, a person suffering from mental illness? This list is limitless because it can describe all those we do not understand or fear - all those we 'pass by on the other side.'

Today, in this familiar story of helping another human being, Jesus is challenging us to reflect on our attitudes. How do we approach the stranger, the different one. Do we seek the face of God in the other? Paul reminds us that "even sinners love their friends." Jesus emphasises two commandments "love God and love your neighbour" it is up to us to reflect on our behaviour and on who we see as our neighbour.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time