Children's Readings (Cycle A)

Time Together, Time of Stress

Opening Question: How was Christmas with your family? Was it peaceful? Full of happiness? Explain.

First Reading: Colossians 3:12-21

God chose you. After all, he made you holy. And he loves you very much. So, act with compassion. Be kind, gentle, and humble. Be patient with others. Take time to understand each other. Forgive each other, even if someone complains about another Christian. Remember, the Lord forgave you. You should do the same. Above all, love others the way you would like to be loved. This kind of love will completely bind you together.

Let the peace Christ gave you rule your hearts. That peace brings us together, like we were a single body. Always thank God. Let Christ's words live in you, like gold that overflows a bank vault. Use all your wisdom when you teach others or give them advice. And sing to God with all your heart in psalms and other church songs, as you thank him through his Son. Whatever you say or do, do it all in the name of our Lord Jesus.

Christmas was good for three different kind of families.

Jack and Susie had a fun time bagging food for the poor a few days before Christmas. Usually they fight or nag their parents or ignore each other. But, between filling boxes and getting small things for the adults, both kids played tag and laughed as they slid into each other on the slick floor. The joy of helping others this time of year was contagious. Jack and Susie both agreed it was the best Christmas they could remember.

Matt also had a great Christmas. In years past, his divorced parents would fight over who had the kids Christmas Eve or Christmas day. At one point, his parents hated each other so much they wouldn't talk to each other or be in the same room with each other. But this year was different. Matt and his mom went over to his grandmother's house on Christmas Eve. His mom was especially loving to him. They sat in the chair together and sang Christmas carols.

Then, his dad showed up. His dad kissed grandma, turned, ran over to Matt, and gave him a big hug. His dad then turned to his mom, smiled, and said "Hi." His mom and dad talked for a while. It was plain to see that the hurt and the anger were in the past. His mom and dad could talk together and work as a team for his good. What a great Christmas present!

Janet had a wonderful time this Christmas. Since, her mom could not take care of her, Janet lived with her grandparents. At first, it was hard to get used to her grandparents habits and rules. When she lived with her mom, Janet could do what she wanted. But now, she lived in a house with rules and regulations. Grandpa and Grandma were good people, but they insisted upon no TV during the week, homework done until bedtime, and chores, lots of chores. Janet used to hate living with her grandparents. But, in time, she got used to it. In time, she got to depend upon it.

Janet also realized one thing this Christmas. Living with her mom gave her freedom. But living with her grandparents gave her love. Janet loved her mom, but she needed to live in a house of love to grow. Sometimes, the rules and the hassles are worth the cost of living in a house of love. When Grandma and Grandpa kissed her goodnight, and said "I love you," Janet knew they meant it.

Three different families who had great Christmases. But their families shared the same thing that made Christmas special. A love that gives and brings people together.

Bridging Question: How many of you have moved in the past two or three years? How hard is it on you and your family?

Gospel: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

Joseph was a good carpenter. It took a long time to build up his shop and his reputation. Now, he could enjoy being a father because he had the time and the money to support his family.

Mary bore Jesus. Joseph, Mary and Jesus moved into the house Joseph build with his brothers and cousins. As soon as the family unpacked everything, Joseph began to hear news from Jerusalem, the capitol. Herod, the mad king, was throwing another fit and someone was going to pay! The people who suffered from his fits were usually the poor, like Joseph and his family.

The night he heard the news, Joseph could not get to sleep. He worried and paced up and down. "Go to sleep," Mary told him. "Okay," Joseph replied. "I'll try."

When Joseph finally did go to sleep, he had a strange dream. This is what happened.

After the Wise Men left, Joseph saw God's angel in a dream. "Get up! Take the boy and his mother out of here! Escape to Egypt!" the angel said. " And stay there until I tell you to return. King Herod is out to kill the boy!" Joseph got out of bed. During the night, he left with the boy and his mother for Egypt. Joseph remained there until Herod died. This way, God's word through the prophet came true: "I called my son out of Egypt."

After Herod died, Joseph saw God's angel in another dream. "Get up. Take the boy and his mother home to Israel," the angel said. "The people who wanted to kill the boy are dead." Joseph got up and took them back to Israel. But, when he heard Archelaus was king after his father Herod died, Joseph was afraid to go there. After he was warned in a dream, Joseph left for Galilee. He settle his family in a village called Nazareth. This was God's word through the prophet came true: "He will be called a Nazarene."

When Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to Nazareth they only had the clothes they wore. The house and the carpenter's shop was gone. But they were happy, because they were safe and they had each other. Joseph knew he could rebuild a house to live in and a business to make money from. But it is impossible to rebuild a family.

Closing Question: What's more important, Christmas gifts or family? Why?