Opening Question: Have you ever heard half of a story? Has someone ever looked bad when you heard what happened, only to find they weren't bad?
First Reading: Malachi 1:8-10
"Did you hear what happened?" Jennifer whispered. "Max was at the local toy store last night. The store was robbed!" All of Jennifer's friends gasped. Not Max!
The next day, everyone kept their distance from Max. He felt alone and untrusted. Not even his teachers would say more than two words to him. Finally, the principal saw Max in the hall. He decided to confront the boy with the rumor. "I heard you were at the toy store last night, Max," the principal said. "What happened?"
"I was there," Max answered. "I was looking at a video game I'm saving up to buy. Why do you ask?"
"There was a robbery at the store," the principal said. "You were there about the time the store closed, weren't you?"
"So that's why everyone is so distant," Max thought to himself. "Yes, Mr. Johnson," Max said, "I was there just before the store closed. But I didn't know the store got robbed. This is the first time I've heard about the robbery."
And the conversation went. Soon, the principal realized Max was telling the truth. The police report afterwards confirmed the robbery happened after the store closed. While the police never called Max, people suspected him for days afterwards.
Who was guilty in this story? Not Max. Max was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The people who told half the truth thought he was guilty. Because people who only heard half the story thought the worst. Max suffered for the rumors people told about him.
People who tell half the truth hurt others. Hurt leads broken relationships. God warned leaders who only tell half the truth He wants the whole truth to be told.
Opening Question: What will you be for Halloween? How will you share the fun with others?
Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12
Jesus told his followers and the crowds:
"The Pharisees and experts in the Jewish Law are God's leaders. So, do everything they tell you. But, don't follow their example because they say one thing and do another. The leaders make all their rules more serious than they have to be. And they don't help people to keep the rules.
The leaders just want to show off to others. They wear fancy clothes to show how religious they are. They love to sit at the most important places when they go to dinner or when they worship God. They love for people to greet them in public and call them 'Teacher.'
Don't encourage anyone to call you 'Master.' Only God is your master and you are all brothers and sisters. Don't call anyone in your community 'father." Only God in heaven is your Father. Don't encourage anyone to call you 'head teacher,' since your 'head teacher' is the Messiah.
The most important person is the one who serves everyone. God will humble everyone who makes himself a leader and will make the humble person a true leader."
Halloween is a time to dress up and show off. This year, Darth Vader will be popular. Lots of kids will dress up like Pokemons. And, don't forget the other costumes, like genies, wizards, and ghosts.
People like Halloween because they get to pretend they are someone different. They play scary or sad or mean, and no one cares. Everyone knows it's Halloween. Pretend is part of the holiday.
What would happen if someone took the Halloween too far? Dusty did. It was just a Halloween joke. But, the joke had a high price.
At school and at home, Dusty was a responsible person. His parents, teachers, and friends could depend on him to do the right thing. And, he was a tall kid for his age. Dusty stood out because of his size and because of his reputation. People knew and admired Dusty.
This year, he decided to dress up in black: dark shoes, pants, jacket, gloves, even a mask. A few nights before Halloween, he tried on his costume. Then, he realized he could slip in the shadows and disappear. Something tall and dark that could jump out of the shadows could scare anyone. "This will be fun!" Danny thought to himself.
Danny had another idea. Prepare the neighbor for the scare. Throughout the neighborhood, fliers appeared. "The Darkness will soon be here!" the flyer proclaimed. At school, he overheard several people talk about the flier. "What does this mean?" they all wondered. The buzz got around school quickly.
Everything was set. Danny hid in the bushes. When a smaller kid came around the corner, he would jump out. "The Darkness!" he would scream with a scary laugh. Kids ran in terror. He scared his little sister so much she dropped her candy bag. He laughed hard when she ran home crying. "This is fun!" Dusty thought to himself.
The following day, everyone treated Dusty a little differently. The word got around. Dusty was mean to the younger kids and took their candy. The tough kids thought Dusty was cool, but no one else looked up to him any more. Adults didn't trust him. Kids didn't like him. Dusty felt alone.
Before Halloween, Dusty was trustworthy. Now, no one wanted him around. Why did this happen? Dusty did one thing different. He was mean. His fun was selfish. Instead of being in the spirit of Halloween, where everyone had fun, Dusty was only concerned about his fun. Dusty learned a hard lesson. No one trusts a selfish person.
Jesus taught us the same thing in today's gospel. If you want to lead others, be responsible, care for them. Treat them the same way you treat yourself. Don't show off to be selfish.
Closing Question: How can you treat others like you treat yourself? How can you have fun this Halloween with everyone else?