December 17, 2006
Junior High Session
Opening Life Reflection
Provide each person with a strip of paper and a pencil. Also a small trashcan will be needed in the center of the meeting space. To begin the session, invite the young people to reflect on those areas of their lives that are in need of conversion. Take a few moments to silently reflect on the following questions:
Suggest that the young people jot down their responses to the questions on the strip of paper that has been provided. Explain that this exercise is to help them release the things that keep them in darkness. Emphasize that no one else will see their responses.
To symbolize their new start, invite each young person to come forward and tear their strip of paper in small pieces and dispose of it in the trash. (You may want to play instrumental music at this time.)
Conclude. Everybody makes mistakes and at times we may be led astray. The joyful news is that we can have a new start. God always calls us back with mercy and love. This third Sunday of Advent helps to direct us back to God.
Listening to the Word of God
Read Zephaniah 3:14-18a.
Scripture Discussion Starters
In the gospel reading John the Baptist tells the people what they must do. Listen to what that is.
Read Luke 3:10-18.
• What good news does John the Baptist proclaim?
The Old Testament reading today proclaims joy and gratitude for the saving presence of God. There is no fear, only trust in the goodness of God. In today’s first reading Zephaniah speaks of the return of a sinful people to God. The people rejoice and sing praises to the Holy One. They are reconciled with God, and God rejoices over them.
In the gospel reading, John the Baptist touches the hearts of listeners with his preaching on the coming judgment of God. People from all walks of life come forward asking, “What are we to do?” John responds by challenging the people to examine their lives and see if they need to make changes in order to be more compassionate and just. John the Baptist proclaims the Good News to the crowd that, “One who is more powerful than I is coming.” And he makes clear that moral conversion is necessary in order to prepare for the coming of the messiah.
The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete is a Latin word meaning rejoice. On this Sunday we shout aloud and sing for joy, because God is in our midst.
Questions for Deeper Reflection
[If you are not going to continue with the doctrinal discussion, proceed to the Gospel in Life.]
Doctrinal Discussion Starters
Catholics believe that moral conversion is possible for all and needed by all. Moral conversion is the process of becoming the good people that God created us to be. We are on a faith journey. Along the way changes may need to be made in order for us to reflect the goodness of God. This process of conversion happens throughout our daily lives. Signs of moral conversion are when we do such things as ask for forgiveness, admit our faults, grow in our concern for the poor, and work for justice.
Moral conversion is a life-long process of acknowledging our faults and turning back to God. When we do this we have much reason to rejoice, because God welcomes us and rejoices over our return.
The Gospel in Life
Connecting to Faith First® Legacy Edition