18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year A: July 31, 2011
First Reading: Genesis 32:22-31
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
(Written for ages 2-7)
Comment: The story of Jacob’s wrestling encounter with God is one of transformation. In some ways, he will remain the same, yet he will carry reminders of his experience—a limp, a new name, a blessing—with him. The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been a beloved story of transformation for generations of children. The caterpillar grows, endures a tummy ache, and finds rest in his small cocoon. When he emerges from the cocoon, he is a beautiful butterfly. This story serves as an excellent starting point to discuss transformation with children by wondering together about the parts of the caterpillar that change as well as those that stay the same. Like the caterpillar and Jacob, we too, experience transformations throughout our own lives. What incites them, how do they change us, and what remains rooted within us?
Second Reading: Romans 9:1-5
(Written for ages 6+)
Comment: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” In this text Paul is sharing his grief with the community. In her commentary, Martha C. Highsmith says that Paul “seems to break down, fall apart, with grief over the failings of his own people.” (Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 3, p. 302) She also points out that the reading from Romans ends with a hopeful note—a reminder of the Messiah, who is over all. Even in the midst of grief, there is hope. The UNICEF sponsored book, I Dream of Peace, shares drawings and writings from children traumatized by war in former Yugoslavia. The intent is to share both the anguish of the children as they lament their experiences as well as their hope for a peaceful future.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 14:13-21
How Hungry Are You? by Donna Jo Napoli and Richard Tchen
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In the story of the feeding of the five thousand, the disciples don’t believe they have enough food to feed the gathered crowd, but Jesus has faith that they do. When the five loaves and two fish are shared among the crowd, everyone eats until they are full and leftovers remain. How Hungry Are You? Is the story of two friends going on a picnic. As additional friends with food join them, the group tries to determine how they will divide the food. When Fox arrives without food, they don’t feel inclined to share, especially as they can no longer divide the food evenly. Eventually they soften and determine a way that everyone can eat and they’ll still have leftovers to share. In both stories we learn the value of abundance that comes from sharing whatever we have.
Review prepared by regular contributor Noell Rathbun