Religious Education For Kids

This Week’s Gospel Explained Simply:

Reflection:

In today’s Gospel we read about how Jesus overturned the tables of the merchants and the moneychangers in the Temple at Jerusalem. In order to understand the relevance of Jesus’ action, we must learn more about the activities that were going on in the temple area. Worship at the Temple in Jerusalem included animal sacrifice, and merchants sold animals to worshipers. Moneychangers exchanged Roman coins, which bore the image of the Roman emperor, for the temple coins that were needed to pay the temple tax.

Jesus’ action at the Temple in Jerusalem is recorded in all four Gospels and is often understood to be among the events that led to Jesus’ arrest and Crucifixion. The Gospel of John, however, places this event much earlier in Jesus’ public ministry than do the Synoptic Gospels. In John’s Gospel this event occurs at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, after his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

We must read the Gospel of John carefully, especially in its presentation of Jesus’ relationship to Judaism. The Gospel of John tends to reflect greater tension and animosity between Jesus and the Jewish authorities than the Synoptic Gospels. The Gospel of John was the last of the four Gospels to be written, and its narrative reflects the growing divide between the Jewish community and the early Christian community. Thus, greater emphasis on the distinction between Christianity and Judaism is found in John’s Gospel.

Reflecting upon the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), John recalls Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple and uses that story to interpret this later event. John explains to his audience, an early Christian community, that temple worship would no longer be necessary because it was surpassed in the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. With greater frequency than the other Evangelists, John intersperses post-Resurrection reflections of this Christian community in his narrative.

After clearing the Temple of the merchants and the moneychangers, John’s Gospel tells us that the people asked for a sign of Jesus’ authority to do such an audacious act. In response, Jesus predicted his death and Resurrection. Throughout John’s Gospel, the language of signs is distinctive. Jesus’ miracles are called signs, and the people look to these signs for proof of his authority. Here we learn that the sign par excellence will be Jesus’ passion, death, and Resurrection.

During Lent we reflect upon the meaning of this sign for us and for our world. We might take this opportunity to consider the quality of our prayer and worship. In our prayers we seek to deepen our relationship with the person of Christ. In our worship with the community, we gather to experience anew the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus and its significance in our lives. Christ promises to be present with us when we gather for prayer.

Family Connection

Today’s Gospel invites us to reflect upon our worship of God. For Jesus and his Jewish contemporaries, the Temple was an important, holy place where they gathered to worship God. The Christian understanding of worship was transformed in light of Jesus’ Resurrection. In the Christian understanding, God is worshiped in a person, the person of Jesus Christ. As we read in today’s Gospel, Jesus is himself the Temple that will be destroyed, but in three days God will raise him up again.

As you gather as a family, talk about places and times when you have experienced God’s presence. After his Resurrection, Jesus’ disciples understood that Jesus was present with them as they gathered to pray and especially when they gathered to share a meal. Read together today’s Gospel, John 2:13-25. Jesus teaches us in today’s Gospel that he is God’s presence with us. Thank God for Jesus’ presence with us, especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.

Text courtesy of Loyola Press

We recommend using the Sunday Connections webpage from Loyola Press throughout the year to help you study and engage the weekly gospels with your children. You can click on this link to Sunday Connections and it will take you to a page with all three Sunday readings with background on the Gospel. Then click on the Family tab at the top for reflections for families and activities to do with kids. You may also want to click on the school grade tabs at the top of the page for ideas of age-appropriate activities and topics of discussion.

Looking for Other Ideas…

March Feast Days

In the month of March we celebrate the feasts of St. Casimir (March 4), St. Perpetua, and St. Felicity (March 7), St. John of God (March 8), St. Frances of Rome (March 9), St. Cyril of Jerusalem (March 18), St. Joseph, spouse of Mary (March 19), and St. Turibius of Mogrovejo (March 23).

Check out Francisanmedia.org & young-catholics.com where you will find a collection of resources to help you learn more about these astounding men and women.

The St. Francis Prayer for Peace

The Prayer of St. Francis is a beautiful prayer of peace and abandonment of our own purpose to God’s will. “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” Check out young-catholics.com.

Kid’s Bulletin:

Below is a bulletin made especially for children. Each week it contains activities like; puzzles, gap-fills, and summaries or explanations related to the Sunday readings. Print out the images below and work with your child to prepare for Sunday’s readings and learn about the saint of the week.

St. Francis of Assisi Peace Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.