Welcome to our weekly Understanding the Gospel Series. Through Understanding the Gospel, we seek to give parents the confidence to have conversations with their children about scripture.
Our best tip for implementing UTG is to print off this page, stick it in the car and talk about it on the way home from mass. But some families may prefer to use this as an opportunity to preview the readings ahead of time. This can also be an excellent strategy as it give the children some knowledge going into mass and something they can “be on the lookout for” to help them stay engaged and listening.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
( If you wish to read the readings in their entirety they are available for free from the USCCB here. )
In the Gospel today we hear the Parable of the two sons. Before we get into the actual story, let’s take a moment to get acquainted with what is going on in the larger story. Jesus is in the temple (that’s a really important church – kind of like our Cathedral) talking to the Chief Priests and the Elders (really important church leaders). They are questioning him – more specifically they are questioning his authority. Authority is power, the ability to give orders, make decisions, and have people listen to you. So they were basically asking Jesus “What makes you so special? Why should we listen to you?”
In response, Jesus tells them this parable. Parables are stories that Jesus uses to teach a lesson. So we know that whenever Jesus tells a Parable, he is trying to help us understand something. In this Parable Jesus talks about a man who had two sons. He asks the first son to do something and the son immediately says “No!” But then later, the son goes and obeys his father. Then the father goes to his second son and asks him to do the same thing. This son says, “Yes,” but then doesn’t follow through and do as his father asks. Which of these sons did as his Father asks? The first.
What is the lesson Jesus is trying to teach here?
Well, the Chief Priest and the Elders were really good about saying good and holy things, but later they would not act on them. Sort of like how the 2nd son told his Father that he would do as the father asked, but then never followed through. The Chief Priests were always praying and asking God to send them a Savior, and God had listened and sent His son, Jesus. But they refused to recognize him, they refused to follow through. It was almost as if they were praying, but not really expecting that God would answer their prayers.
Questions for Discussion –
Who are the people who have authority over you? Do you do what they ask when they ask you to do it?
Which of the 10 commandments would “authority” fall under?
Do you think there are any places in our life where God has sent us blessings and/or gifts, but we have a hard time recognizing them?
Note for Mom and Dad –
This is also a good opportunity to talk about the great responsibility people in authority have to do what is right – what God would want them to do. I would always add something like, “People in authority have the responsibility to make sure that what they are always asking people to do the right thing. If someone in authority ever asks you to do something that you don’t feel comfortable with – something you don’t think God would want you to do, you should always tell Mom and Dad.” Feel free to give examples in both the positive and the negative like, “If someone in authority asked you to steal something, what would you do? And if someone in authority asked you to help your brother tie his shoes, what would you do?”
Consider ending the session by sharing with your children how it makes you feel when they do as you ask, when you ask them to do it. Explain to them how their faithfulness and obedience impacts your family positively and you are so thankful when they chip in and do their part to make your life as a family happy.