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God's Unconditional Love

TITLE
God’s Unconditional Love

SESSION PURPOSE
Understanding God’s love for us and how to live a Godly life.

OPENING PRAYER
A Song of Praise – the Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. This is the day the Lord has mad; let us rejoice and be glad in it. The Lord is God, and He has given us light. You are my God, and I will give thanks to You; You are my God, I will extol You. O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever. Amen. (Psalm 118: 14,24,27, 28-29)

ACTIVITY
Read the first part of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke ). When finished, ask the participants to describe how they think their parents would react if they behaved like the Prodigal Son. Would they feel angry, bitter, thankful, afraid, betrayed, sad? Ask them to write down the three or four strongest feelings they think their parents would have. They should keep this in mind as the leader reads the second part of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 17-32).

After completing the Parable of the Prodigal Son, ask the participants to reflect on the Prodigal’s decision making process. What did it take for the Prodigal Son to go back to his father’s home (Courage, boldness, strength, but most of all humility)?  Remind participants that the Prodigal Son took action and made the decision to change his ways and ask for his father’s forgiveness, even though his father might not accept it.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Discuss the following questions that apply to their every day lives.

- Have you ever been at a point in your life where you had to make such a decision?
- What are some of the ways we turn away from our heavenly Father?
- The Prodigal had a “turning point” where he changed his mind and decided to go back. So what makes us change our mind and turn back to God?
- What does it mean to live a Godly life?

What steps can we take to turn our lives back to God if we have turned away?

1) Look at our heart and decide what needs to change.
* Leader can read one or more of the following Scripture passages and ask for brief reflections from the group (Lamentations 3:40, Luke 15:17, Luke 18:13-14, 2 Corinthians 13: 5-6, Psalm 119: 59-61).
2) Make things right (ask for forgiveness)
* Talk about the Sacrament of Confession. Ask parish priest to discuss what happens during the Sacrament and how to prepare for it.

Once we have taken steps to follow God, what action do we take to stay on the right track?
* LOVE: We must remember the Greatest Commandment… To love God with everything we are, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. When we do this, we might think twice about betraying someone, gossiping, cheating, lying, etc. What else would we avoid if we learned to love and respect each other as God loves us?
* OBEY: Sometimes they are hard to follow, but we must continually strive to follow God’s commandments and the rules of our parents. God’s commandments and our parents’ rules are not meant to make our lives miserable. They are meant to keep us on the right track and out of harm’s way. What kinds of things will we avoid if we follow God’s commandments and our parents’ rules?
* DO BATTLE: Start looking at our lives, friends, our actions and fight against those things/people who threaten to move our focus on Christ. What kinds of things or people will we go up against?
* PRAY: Prayer is a lifeline for each and every Christian. It is our opportunity to open up our hearts and minds to let God’s love in. It also gives us a chance to share our concerns and worries with God, rather than dealing with it on our own. Finally, it shows that we put our trust and hope in God and His guidance.
* STAY IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH: It is VERY hard to be a Christian on our own. But we don’t have to. The Church community is there to help guide, support, and love us. The priest is there to help us and offer us advice. Being a part of Church life also gives us friends who are also trying to stay on the right path. Of course, Church is the perfect place to be close to God… We participate in the Holy Sacraments of the Church, specifically Holy Communion.

CLOSING PRAYER
A Lamp to My Feet - Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways! You have commanded Your precepts to be kept diligently. O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping Your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all Your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart when I learn your righteous precepts. O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119: 1-7, 97, 105)


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