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Youth Ministry Resources - 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matthew 21:28-32 - Parable of the two sons - 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

We will be listening to the last chapters of Matthew over the final weeks of the Church's year and the overarching theme of the parables provided is about the authority of God and the moral supremacy of Jesus compared to the claims of authority by the high priests and elders. Jesus has just arrived in Jerusalem and so this contest for authority that will end in the death of Jesus is held in the capital of Israel and begins at the Temple, the ultimate symbol of power.

Jesus directs his words to the Jewish leaders and by presenting the parable about the two sons, the opponents of Jesus find themselves compared with tax collectors and prostitutes who will enter the Kingdom ahead of them. Unfortunately the power of this intolerable comparison is lost on us because we have heard it so frequently and so it has become commonplace, but it is the most insulting comparison a Jew could ever be given.

Jesus insists that his opponents refused to listen to the teachings of John the Baptist while those considered the worst in society did listen and these tax collectors and prostitutes experienced a change of heart and a conversion to God's will. The chief priests and elders of the people that Jesus is telling this parable to were the ones who would claim they upheld the Torah. Jesus dismisses them by describing them as the son who said "Yes" to his father's request to go the vineyard and then did not go. They were simply giving lip service and their hearts were those of hypocrites.

Jesus is teaching us what ultimately determines our salvation and the joys of eternal life is when the human heart and the divine heart of God are one. So the challenge from Jesus to us today is how we live our lives - is it lip service or is it real. Are we so good at carrying our rosary beads and yet being abusive to our spouse? Do we make such a fuss of our genuflections (the more we do the more we show others how holy we are) or do we recognise Christ in the person walking into the church with us, the one sitting near us or in the person who challenges our perspective? Are we genuine compassionate people whose hearts conform to God or are we very good at naming the letter of the Law and carrying out the externals?

Cate Mapstone

Year C: Luke 16:19-31 - The rich man and Lazarus - 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

This is a story of contrasts - contrasts between a man dressed in the finest purple linen and a beggar covered with sores. A contrast between their lifestyles and a contrast between their afterlife. A contrast between being carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham (something we pray today in our funeral rite) and a man who died and was buried. A contrast between someone who was blind to those around him and someone who would notice if a crumb of food fell in his direction.

The Hebrew Scriptures teach us that if we care for needy people we are children of Abraham. The rich man in Hades calls out to Father Abraham, but his actions on earth denied this relationship.

There were no deeds of loving kindness, rather a self centred callous way of life - a way of life that made the rich man blind to the plight of those who were less fortunate. It was a case of apathy and myopia - it simply did not occur to the rich man that he could do something, despite the wealth of teachings in the Hebrew Scriptures on caring for the poor.

As Christians we have the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures along with the Christian Testament where Jesus builds on the teachings of Abraham and Paul gives lengthy teaching on the Body of Christ. Jesus taught "that whenever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me." We have the teachings of someone who rose from the dead, so really we have no excuse for ignoring our wider social responsibilities.

Who are the invisible people around us? Homeless people? Alcoholics and other drug users? Migrants? Aborigines? Unemployed? Single mothers? Elderly people shut in their homes? etc There is an extensive list. Their desperate situation is enough to attract the attention of God.

Jesus said "this is my body" and sometimes that body is covered in sores. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying of AIDS, covered in sores, and yet developed countries deny these people medication. The people in Sierra Leone have a life expectancy of 34. The people in Darfur have been subjected to genocide. What are we doing for these people?

In today's world the media keep us informed of what is happening around the world, we cannot claim ignorance of the millions who wait outside our front door. We have the Scriptures, we have the risen Christ, we have the means, do we have the will?

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time