Opening Question: Who do you feel closest to, your parents or your friends?
First Reading: Genesis 3:9-15
The Lord called out to the man and asked, "Where are you?"
The man answered, "I was naked, and when I heard you walking through the garden, I was frightened and hid!"
"How did you know you were naked?" God asked. "Did you eat any fruit from that tree in the middle of the garden?"
"It was the woman you put here with me," the man said. "She gave me some of the fruit, and I ate it."
The Lord God then asked the woman, "What have you done?"
"The snake tricked me," she answered. "And I ate some of that fruit."
So the Lord God said to the snake:
"Because of what you have done, you will be the only animal to suffer this curse;
For as long as you live, you will crawl on your stomach and eat dirt.
You and this woman will hate each other; your descendants and hers will always be enemies.
One of hers will strike you on the head, and you will strike him on the heel."
Genesis 3:9-15 (CEV)
Theo was angry. He tried to cheat on a math test at school and got caught. So he slither out of his situation. "But Mrs. Hawkins, everyone cheats," he said. Of course, that excuse didn't work on his teacher and it certainly didn't work on his parents.
At lunch the following day, Theo groused with his friends at school. "It's not fair," he complained. "Mrs. Hawkins told me to retake the test at recess. Recess! That's my time to play." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the principal, Ms. Lizel, view him with suspicion. He returned her gaze with a cold stare.
One of his friends interrupted the eye contact. "When do you have to take the test?"
Theo tore off a piece of his sandwich, chopped a few bites and swallowed. "Tomorrow," he bitterly replied.
When he got home, he received the same suspicious look from his mother that he received from the principal. "Go upstairs and study for your test. No television, no cell phone, no video games. Do you understand me, young man?"
Theo returned the same cold stare as he did at school. He didn't even bother to nod to his mother. He went up to his room, slammed the door and threw his book bag on the bed. He slumped to the ground and brushed his fingers against the carpet. Then, after the longest time on the floor, he stood up, tore open his bag and pulled out his math textbook. "At least I can get a passing grade. Then everyone won't be mad at me."
We all have times we do something wrong and get caught. But, what's worse, getting caught or realizing we did something wrong? For Adam and Eve, they felt shame because they got caught. But imagine if they were sorry for breaking God's commandment and tried to make it up to God? Think what would have happened if they tried to repent for doing the wrong thing? Do you think that would have made a difference?
Does it make a difference when you realize you've done wrong and try to make it right again?
Bridging Question: Has someone tried to get you in trouble when you did the right thing?
Gospel: Mark 3:20-35
After Jesus chose the Twelve Apostles and gave them power to throw devils out of people, he went home. So many people gathered around Jesus and his followers were not able to eat dinner. The relatives of Jesus wanted to take control of him because they said:
He is not himself.
The scribe who came from Jerusalem kept saying:
He is possessed by Beelzebub because he throws demons out of people with the power of the demons' ruler.
Jesus called out to the scribes:
Hey! How can Satan throw himself out of people? If a kingdom is divided with a civil war, the kingdom will soon cease to exist. If a family is divided with one relative fighting another, the family will soon break up. If Satan works against himself, his follower will also be divided. They will soon break up and power of Satan will be at an end. No thief can break into the house of a strong man and steal unless he first ties up the strong man. Then the thief can steal. So listen! Every sin and insult against God that people commit can be forgiven. But whoever insults the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. That person is guilty of an eternal sin!
Jesus said this because the scribes kept saying:
He is controlled by an evil spirit.
His mother and brothers arrived. They stood outside sent someone to call Jesus. The people who sat around Jesus told him:
Your mother, brothers, and sisters are outside looking for you.
Who are my mother and my brothers?
Then he looked at the people who sat in a circle around him.
See? Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does God's will is a member of my family!
Cici and Kacy were twins but they didn't look alike. Cici had long blond hair and blue eyes. Kacy had short brown hair cut in a popular style. She had brown eyes and stood at least an inch and a half taller than her sister.
Cici was a shy girl with few friends. She didn't like the attention, but she always thought of others. She was loyal to her friends and showed quiet kindness to strangers.
Her twin sister Kacy was popular. She craved the attention of others, but treated many of her acquaintances with quiet contempt. She did think they deserved her friendship.
One day, they found they would play on the same soccer team. On the way to their first practice, Cici stared out the window while Kacy frantically texted on her cell phone. Their mother tried to fill in awkward silence.
"Girls, this is the first time you've been on the same team. This is sure going to make my life easier. I only have to make one trip for both of you."
Cici muttered, "Sure, mom." Kacy just grunted.
Their mother added, "Don't you have some friends on the team, Cici?"
Cici glanced at her mother, "Yeah, Ashley."
Kacy looked up, sensing an opportunity to put her sister in her place. "Oooo, Ashley, the girl with wired mouth and the thick glasses. I'd like to have her as a friend." The last sentence dripped with sarcasm.
Cici turned to face her sister. "You can't resist putting down my friends, can you? At least Ashley is a true friend, unlike your gang who hangs on your every word. And what did you say about your friend Krystal? A fairy tale bimbo? Maybe I should tell her that when I see her at practice."
Their mother gasped, "Cici, you wouldn't."
Cici retreated from the comment. "Mom, you know me better than that."
"And what about you, Kacy? Have you ever talked to Ashley? She's really nice and helpful and..."
"And she's a loser," Kacy crowed.
Cici jumped in, "how dare you?"
"Girls!" their mother shouted.
Neither girl dared to break the silence their mother imposed. Then, their mother spoke. "Girls, you both want to win this season, right?" Neither answered, so their mother said in a sharper tone, "You do want to win, don't you?"
Almost on cue, both girls replied in defeated resignation, "Yes."
"Well, how are you going to win if you don't work together? You know, 'teamwork.'"
After another long silence, Cici turned to her sister. "Mom's right, you know. We need to work together. I'm sorry I yelled at you."
Kacy nodded. "Yeah, I'm sorry, too, especially about Ashley. I know she's a good friend and a fast forward."
"Don't forget about Krystal," Cici added. "She might act a little dippy, but she's one of the best goalies in the league."
Their mother cut in. "With attitudes like that and working hard together, you will have a winning season."
Families are more than blood relations. They bond people together with a single purpose, that of love. Any family that does not share love will not last.
Jesus recognized that fact. He saw that families, like nations, cannot stand if they always fight with each other. Even the devil himself could not have power if he fought with other demons. But, the Lord also saw that families need more than mere relations of parents to children, sisters to brothers. They need not just the focus of love, but of God's love. And to know God's love means to do his will.
When I try to love others the way God loves me, then I will know that I am a part of a greater family, God's family. I will be a brother or sister of Jesus.
Closing Question: How can you love others the way God loves you?