God so loves the world that God’s Son becomes one of us. This is Sunday’s gospel message. Jesus’ mission reveals God’s love as he reaches out to all the people he encounters. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what you’re going through. The song “You Are Loved” reminds us all that God loves and cares for us, imperfections and all.
Key Lyrics: You are loved / If your heart’s in a thousand pieces / If you’re lost and you’re far from reason / Just look up; know you are loved / Just look up; and know you are loved / When it feels like something’s missing / If it hurts but you can’t find healing / Just look up, know you are loved / Just look up, know you are loved
Questions: What relationship does God have with the world? How is this reflected in Jesus’ relationship with his followers? Who shows you love when you feel down? How do you show love to others? What makes relationships difficult?
We sometimes feel God’s presence in our life in surprising ways. Sometimes we can find God by taking a simple walk and connecting with the world around us. Other times, God’s presence arises in times of personal pain and darkness, times when we wonder “why me?” This week’s SPIRIT makes us aware that taking a risk (like Mary) and setting off on a journey can bring us closer to who we are meant to be. The song “Arms Open” reminds us that through all our questions, fears, and pains, God is always by our side.
Key lines: I can’t uncry your tears / I can’t rewind the time / I can’t unsay what’s said / In your crazy life / My love, my arms are open / Oh, and when you’re cursing at the sky / And thinking, “Lord, you must be joking” / My arms are open / And, and when you’re looking in the mirror / Thinking that, “my life is over” / My arms are open
Questions: When have you felt challenged in your faith? What sustained you? What did your journey teach you? Like Mary, what risks do you take to participate in God’s vision for peace on earth and good will to all?
This week’s SPIRIT theme is about choices and circumstances. Troye Sivan sings a song that plays the “what if” game, just like one of the characters in this week’s story. She wonders what would have happened if she hadn’t rubbed the cross on her visor; however, her friends point out that God is always with us, no matter what choices we make and the circumstances we find ourselves in. But choices have consequences. We can trust in God to stay with us no matter the consequences but not to prevent them.
Key Lyrics: What if, what if we start to drive / What if, what if we close our eyes / What if, speeding through red lights into paradise / …Cross your fingers, here we go
Questions: What choices have you made without seeing the consequences? When have you been lucky enough to escape consequences you didn’t see coming? When have you felt God’s presence in a tough time? How has faith helped you make decisions or get through a difficult time?
This week’s Spirit focuses on Jesus’ message that we are all sacred no matter who we are or what our circumstances may be. Life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes we make decisions that don’t work out. It’s important to remember that people who suffer from natural disasters, poverty, or lack of education are no less sacred than someone who lives in a fancy house, has a good job, or great education. Catholic social teaching stresses that we are ALL important in the eyes of God and it is our duty to remedy the injustices others may be going through.
Key Lyrics: So wait for me, I swear I’ll find you / Climbing every wall that hides you / I know we were meant for something better / So wait for me, the world is changing / Underneath the ground is shaking / You and I were meant for something better
Questions: Catholic Relief Services is a great example of putting the principles of Catholic social teaching into action. What other groups follow these teachings? Who do you know in your own life that embodies these teachings? What does the idea of putting your faith in action mean to you?