Compassion and Loyalty
Opening Question: Who helped you when you didn't feel you had a friend? Why did that person help you?
First Reading: Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1
Joey was a small kid who liked to play with the big kids. A few times, the older children would tolerate Joey. Most of the time, they would ignore him or tell him "No!"
One time, however, one of the older children named Mackie wanted to play a trick on Joey. "I'll make sure Joey never wants to play with us again!" Mackie crowed.
Sure enough, Joey came over. "Can I play with you?" he asked.
"Yes you can!" Mackie replied enthusiastically. The rest of his friends could barely keep from laughing. They knew want would happen next.
"What are you playing?" Joey asked.
"Blindfold," Mackie said in his calmest voice. "I'll blindfold you, and you try to catch us by listening to our voices. It's like Marco Polo, but you're not swimming."
"Sounds like fun!" Joey said as he looked forward to the game.
Mackie blindfolded Joey. He turned Joey around twenty five times. Then, Mackie said, "When you want to know where we are, just ask. We'll answer you."
"Where are you," Joey called out.
"We're here!" Mackie and his friends answered. Then they threw balloons filled with paint at Joey and laughed. Their laugh was evil.
They kept throwing the balloons at Joey even when he took off the blindfold and ran away crying. Joey ran, but he stumbled and fell. Mackie ran up to him and hit him with three more balloons at short range.
"Don't ever come back to play with us again!" Mackie shouted.
The next day, the word about the mean trick spread rapidly around school. As Joey arrived, his school mates looked at him differently. They didn't notice the paint streaks in his hair. But they did notice the boy that the bullies picked on and laughed at. They felt sorry for Joey. And they were mad at Mackie.
Did Mackie and his friends get in trouble? Yes. But did Joey get to play with the older kids? Yes. A few older children asked Joey to play. They soon discovered he was fun to have as company. They found out he was even a loyal friend. Soon, the small kid was one of the more popular children in the school. Even Mackie had to admit that.
After Mackie's trick on Joey, some of the children not only felt sorry for the small kid. They had compassion for him. Compassion means you feel you must take care of someone who is poor or who has a need. The people of Jerusalem felt the same for the person that was killed for them.
God promised to give the people the spirit of compassion. Let us pray for that spirit.
Bridging Question: Who needs your compassion? How can you help them?
Gospel: Luke 9:18-24
Once, when Jesus was praying by himself, his followers sat around him. He asked them, "What do the people say about me?"
"Most say you're continuing the work of John the Baptist," they answered. "Others say you're like Elijah. And a few claim you're like one of the old prophets who has come alive again."
"But you!" Jesus insisted. "What do you say about me?"
"You are the Christ of God," Peter answered.
"Make sure you don't tell this to anyone!" Jesus commanded sternly. "The Son of Man will have to suffer a lot. The religious leaders, the chief priests, and their helpers will reject him and have him killed. But, God will raise him up three days later." Then he said to everyone, "If someone wants to come after me, he must stop being selfish. He must pick up his own cross and follow me. If someone makes his life the most important thing, he will lose it. But if he is willing to lose his life because he believes in me, he will save it!"
Darren knew a lot of people, but he had only a few friends. His friends were loyal to him because he was loyal. "The way you treat people is the way they will treat you," he always said.
One day, Tomas arrived at school. His parents moved Tomas and his family from Bolivia to a new school, a new town, and a new country. They moved for a better life.
When Tomas entered the classroom in the middle of the year, everyone noticed. "Who is the new kid with the accent?" someone wondered. "Where did he come from?" another asked. "I wonder what he can do," someone else whispered.
Tomas was shy, so he kept to himself. But, during lunchtime three days after he arrived, Tomas found himself watching Darren playing soccer. The ball flew out of the play area toward Tomas. The young Bolivian jumped up and made a head butt. He connected with the ball and it flew back into the field.
"Nice shot!" Darren said in admiration. He was about to turn and play again, when he stopped. "I'll be back!" Darren yelled at his classmates. Then he turned to Tomas. "You're the new kid in school. Hi! I'm Darren." Darren stuck out his hand to greet the new student.
"I'm Tomas," he replied. He took Darren's hand and shook it.
"Where did you learn to play soccer like that?" Darren asked.
"You mean 'Football,'" Tomas responded.
"I forgot," Darren said laughing. "Soccer is called 'Football' in every other country but the United States. I bet you have a few moves you could teach me. I could teach you the game of American Football."
"I would like that," Tomas said with a smile.
For that day on, Tomas and Darren became good friends. Darren didn't care what others said about the new kid with the accent. Tomas was a friend and Darren was loyal. Tomas returned the loyalty. They stuck together no matter what happened.
Jesus asked his followers a simple question: "Where do I fit in your life?"
Peter answered "You are the Christ, God's Chosen One." In other words, Peter said Jesus was the most important person in his life, because Jesus brought him close to God.
Then Jesus explained what that meant. He was going to suffer and die. God would raise him from the dead. But, as he did, so his followers must be willing to do. Be faithful to a friend, even if it hurts. Just like Darren and Tomas. That's what loyalty is all about.
Jesus is loyal to us. He can help us be loyal to him.
Closing Question: How can a friend be loyal? How can you be a good friend to someone who is hurting?