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?
Jesus begins his ministry with these words: “This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God draws near. Change your attitude and believe in the Gospel.” Jesus serves as the ultimate role model in how we should treat ourselves and each other; he challenges unjust laws and perspectives; he teaches us the importance of forgiveness and mercy. Just as Jesus leads by example, Bea Miller’s song “Brand New Eyes” is about waking up to the truth of our purpose, regardless of the challenges that may come our way.
Key lines: I’m wide awake now, I’m free of the doubt / Don’t wanna look down / And if I fall out, I lay on the ground / And look to the clouds / It’s like I got brand new eyes, and I can finally see / What has always been right there in front of me / And with these brand new eyes I’ll take in everything / And I will finally see me
Questions: Who serves as a role model for you? What have you learned from your role models? How have you applied what you learned to your own life? How has Jesus influenced your ideas and actions? What challenges have you overcome because you’ve followed Jesus’ example?
Easter is where Christian faith begins. It celebrates Jesus’ resurrection. The Church often baptizes new believers at Easter time. Spirit is about a young woman who wakes up to what she believes at a baptism. For some people, believing is as natural as breathing; others journey a longer way through doubting and questioning. They may find people in their lives whose faith opens their hearts and minds to the teachings of Jesus. The song “Open Hands” is about opening ourselves up to the possibilities that come with faith and embracing a wider community that encourages and sustains us.
Key Lines: I’m placing all my trust / Into a higher love / You’re dreaming bigger dreams / You have a plan for me / And though I cannot see / Here I am with open hands
Questions: Where are you on your faith journey? How do you describe yourself as a believer? How do examples of faith in other people inspire you? Who has influenced your believing? What baptisms have you witnessed? What does baptism mean to you?
Turning the other cheek when someone hits you is an act of nonviolence, of stopping violence rather than taking it to another level. Whether a bully by choice or a child soldier by force, fighting leads to more fighting, violence feeds violence. Jesus challenges us to stop the payback cycles, “to love our enemies, pray for our persecutors.” Katy Perry’s song “Rise” is about rising above the fray and challenging ourselves and those around us to be better.
Key Lines: I won’t just survive / Oh, you will see me thrive /Can’t write my story / I’m beyond the archetype / I won’t just conform / No matter how you shake my core / ‘Cause my roots, they run deep, oh
Questions: What does Jesus mean when he tells us to love our enemies? When have you turned the other cheek? How can you reach out to those you disagree with or join with others to stop those who bully? What are some ways you can resolve situations peacefully?
This Sunday’s gospel talks about Jesus’ encounter with ten lepers. They call to Jesus, ask him for compassion, and Jesus grants it. There is often more to a person than meets the eye. Sometimes a person doesn’t look or act “normal” by our standards, and we allow that to blind us to the beauty and potential that exist in that person. It is often by showing compassion that we get to know people, understand them, and rise above our own judgment to become better people.
Key Lyrics: We could be friends / Just put your head on my shoulders / I will straighten out, for you / Don’t wanna know if you made mistakes / I’m still waiting on your sunshine
Questions: What were your initial thoughts when you first meet someone who looks or acts different from you? How do you approach him or her? What did you learn from someone different from you? What makes people fit in or not fit in your school?
Holy Week is a time to reflect on the last days of Jesus’ life — his last supper with his friends, his trial, crucifixion, and death. Throughout his ministry, Jesus teaches humility, compassion, and forgiveness. In his final actions he lives out his message in wholehearted love for us. The song “You’re All I Need” expresses how we look to Jesus as a guide. It reflects on how we follow Jesus in our relationships with friends, family, and neighbors, how we can be beacons of hope.
Key Lyrics: You shine like a light blazing down on me / Instead of reaching out, I trace your skin to see / In my head you’re a constant heartbeat / I feel you rushing through my veins / You’re all I need, you always come for me
Questions: Reflect back on the past weeks of Lent. What have you discovered about Jesus, about your commitment as his follower? What practices do you want to continue year-round? In what liturgies of Holy Week will you take part?