5th Friday of Lent 2019 – Elementary School Mass (readings)
[Please note that this was written exclusively for a Mass with K-8 students, with language and themes applicable to them]
By a show of hands, who knows what bullying is? Is this a good thing? No. No one likes to be picked on or made fun of or made to feel small. It hurts, doesn’t it? That’s what’s happening to Jeremiah in the first reading today. People are denouncing him, really being mean to him.
But what does he do? He goes and tells someone bigger than him. Who do you think he tells? God! Because God hears his prayers, and gives him the strength and the courage to do what’s right; ignoring the mean words of the bullies.
If you guys ever find yourself being bullied, or see someone else being bullied, what should you do? Tell an adult. And then tell God.
Adults, I didn’t leave you out of this reflection; don’t worry. There’s a bit more to this particular story of Jeremiah. The full scene, which wasn’t part of the readings today, actually depicts the prophet questioning his call to ministry. Adults, we all have a ministry. Fr. Budi’s ministry is obvious; but the rest of us, perhaps our ministry is less obvious. Teachers/aides, your ministry at the parish is to your students. Your principal’s ministry is to the students and teachers. If you work in an office, your ministry is to every single person that comes to see you at your desk, and to the wider parish community. In the home, our ministry is to our spouse, our children, our parents, our siblings, our neighbors, and our coworkers.
Jeremiah, in today’s reading, was surrounded by everyone denouncing him, waiting for him to make a mistake. And it’s because of this that he doubts his call to ministry. He feels overwhelmed, underappreciated, devalued, belittled. He feels like he wants to quit. But then there’s a turn of events: He remembers who it is that he serves, and who has his back: God, the one who called him to this ministry.
Today’s psalm tells us our first step in dealing with bullies, with drama, with doubt in our ministry: See God as our rock, our fortress, our deliverer.
For some of us this is only our school, and so that’s primarily how we look at it. For others we work here, and so it’s just a place of work. But what we can forget, is that this parish is our home, too. Our spiritual home. The place we gather as a community to worship God. This is our small refuge, our quiet place in the storm, where we can come when everyone and everything around us is trying to shout us down, or bully us, or people are just being plain mean. Or if we’re just stressed. We can come here to the Church and visit Jesus in the blessed sacrament. Because he knows what we’re going through, because he’s gone through it too.
My brothers and sisters, when things get hard, we have to remember that the LORD is with us, like a mighty champion: When we’re distressed, when we’re bullied, when we’re tired of it all, we have to remember to call on Him, because he will hear our voice.
To help us with this, let’s ask for Mary’s intercession: Blessed Mother, help us to see this parish as our spiritual home, to come here to visit your son in the Blessed Sacrament as often as possible, even daily! Help us to turn to him in our time of need, as we pray: Hail Mary …