This session challenges high school youth to explore what Jesus revealed to us about our identity. Made in the image and likeness of God, we are inherently good—blessed with a variety of gifts and talents to glorify God. Jesus revealed the Father and the Father’s love for us, teaching us that God claims us as His sons and daughters—we are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and heirs to the Kingdom of God. We are called to respond to God’s love, by the grace Jesus gives us, with faith and love. This session is designed for high school youth and works best with 12-30 participants but can be easily adapted for smaller or larger groups.
Correlation to the U.S. Bishops’ Adaptation: Course 2: Who Is Jesus Christ? / Jesus Christ Teaches Us about Ourselves (Catechism of the Catholic Church #381, 1700 -1709, 356-358)
1701 "Christ, … in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, makes man fully manifest to himself and brings to light his exalted vocation."2 It is in Christ, "the image of the invisible God,"3 that man has been created "in the image and likeness" of the Creator. It is in Christ, Redeemer and Savior, that the divine image, disfigured in man by the first sin, has been restored to its original beauty and ennobled by the grace of God.4Session at a Glance
7:00 p.m. Welcome, Introductions, and Ice Breaker
7:10 p.m. Opening Prayer: Like an Eagle)
7:25 p.m. Focus Activity: Rob’s Story
7:30p.m. Jesus Reveals Ourselves to Us
8:25 p.m. Closing Prayer: Help Me to Believe the Truth about Myself
Laptop and LCD projector (for showing a PowerPoint presentation)
“Fly Like a Bird” by Ken Canedo (Spirit & Song, OCP) (see #4 in Prepare in Advance)
CD or MP3 player and speakers
Bibles, one to three copies per small group and one for the session leader
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Three large candy bars and a bag of mini-candy bars, one for each participant
Optional: instrumental music for brief reflection during opening prayer
Optional: video clip from YouTube “Stethoscope Man” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P59bUbkiXSk
PowerPoint Presentation of “Fable of Eagle Who Thought He Was a Chicken” (see #2 in Prepare in Advance)
Resource 1, Adaptation of Psalm 139, one copy for the reader (see #4 in Prepare in Advance)
Resource 2, Rob’s Story, one copy for the leader
Handout 1, Appointments, one for each participant (cut sheets in half)
Handout 2, How Does God See You Bible Scavenger Hunt,
Prepare in Advance
Consider making a prayer card for each participant. Use a quote that connects to the session’s theme. One idea: “O God / help me / to believe / the truth about myself / no matter / how beautiful it is!” by Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB (Seasons of Your Heart: Prayers and Reflections, p. 71). Design and print on magnetic printer paper (Avery #3270 Printable Magnet Sheets, sold in 8½ x 11 sheets) and cut apart.
Download the PowerPoint Presentation that accompanies this session. Go through the PowerPoint so you are comfortable with the flow of the slides and the story. The script for the slides is typed in the note section of the presentation and is also found in Resource 2.
Google “Our deepest fear” on the Internet. Print a copy of this popular reading by Marianne Williamson to use during the session. Consider using a YouTube video using a clip from the movie, Coach Carter. Go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ybt8wXIahQU.
Consider inserting the lyrics for “Fly Like a Bird” into the last slide of the PowerPoint presentation. You could also include this YouTube video which includes the music along with images:
Prepare a newsprint with these two questions:
Questions for Reflection What is one thing that holds you back from being the person God created you to be?
What is one way you can let the eagle within you soar? One way that you can live fully
the person God created you to be?
Look over Resource 1, An Adaptation of Psalm 139, used in the Opening Prayer, and insert the names of participants in the blank spaces. Invite a leader or young person to read this resource sheet for the opening prayer.
Invite a leader to read “Rob’s Story” (Resource 3) during the session. Provide a copy in advance of the session so he/she can become familiar with reading.
Mark Bible passages and Catechism references used in the session if you are going to read directly from these books.
Optional: YouTube video clip “Stethoscope Man” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P59bUbkiXSk . You will either need access to the Internet to be able to show the clip or you will need to download the clip to your laptop. (Try www.keepvid.com to download the clip.)
Set up tables for refreshments and sign-in. Have one or two people at the sign-in table with a check-in sheet and name tags. Hospitality is important: As the leader, do not use the gathering time before the session begins to take care of last minute preparations. Spend the time moving among the participants, greeting and speaking with them.
Welcome and Introductions (10 minutes)
Welcome the young people as they arrive. Invite everyone to make a name tag. Introduce yourself and any other leaders present. If the group is new to each other, invite participants to introduce themselves.
Distribute a copy of Handout 1,Appointment Sheet, and pens or pencils to each participant. Give these instructions on making appointments:
You are going to make four appointments using the sheet—one for each segment of a typical day (morning, afternoon, evening, and night). Obviously, you can only make an appointment with someone who has that same “time” available as you.
Your goal is to make appointments with 4 different people.
To make an “appointment,” introduce yourself to the other person and ask him/her to sign your sheet in the appropriate space. Then you sign that person’s sheet in the same space. You’ll be meeting your “appointments” during tonight’s session.
In other words, if someone is available to make an afternoon appointment with you, they sign your sheet in the “afternoon” segment and you sign their sheet in the afternoon segment. You have then made an afternoon appointment.
When you are finished making your four appointments, take a seat so I’ll know who is finished. You have about five minutes to make your appointments. Ready? Begin!
Note to Leader: If the group is small, it may be necessary for some people to have two appointments with the same person. Or one of the adult leaders may need to make an appointment with someone so that everyone has someone in each time slot.
Opening Prayer (15 minutes)
Prayer Leader: (begin with the Sign of the Cross)
Dear God, You who created us, saved us and guides us. You know us better than anyone. Be with us tonight as we explore who it is we are and who it is you call us to be. We trust in your understanding and mercy as we take an in-depth look at ourselves. And we trust in your grace and strength as you challenge us to become more of who we are meant to be. Be with us, Lord, tonight. Amen.
Invite the reader to read “An Adaptation of Psalm 139” (Resource 1).
Tell the story of “Fable of the Eagle Who Thought He Was a Chicken” using the PowerPoint presentation and Resource 2. Respond
How might you be like the Eagle who thought it was a chicken? How aware do you think you are of your real potential? Let’s take a minute to reflect on this.
Play some instrumental music during this time.
To close the prayer, invite participants to sing “Fly Like a Bird.”
Optional: You may choose to project the lyrics on a PowerPoint slide if participants will not have copies of the music.
Focus Activity – Rob’s Story (5 minutes)
In keeping with the bird theme, invite the leader to share “Rob’s Story” (from Resource 3) with participants. Ask:
Does this remind you of any other story you have heard? A story of someone who became other than what he was to help save others?
Tonight, we are going to explore the topic of what Jesus, the God who became human, teaches us about our own humanity. It is only in the mystery of Christ that the mystery of who we are becomes clear (CCC #359). The Church teaches that it is Christ who fully manifests who we are and what our purpose is (CCC #1701).
Jesus Reveals Ourselves to Us(55 minutes)
Step 1: I am…? Round One (5 minutes)
Tell participants to get together with their “morning appointment.”
Decide who is “A” and who is “B”. You will each have one minute to complete the sentence “I am…” as many ways as you can describing your physical appearance. Go for details and be creative. For example: “I am 5’6”” or “I am blonde” or “I have long fingernails.” Each partner will keep track of the number of statements the other can make. For this round “B” will go first. “A” shouldn’t make any comments, just count. At the end of one minute, I’ll call time and will let “A” know when they can begin. There will be a candy bar for the person who can make the most “I am” statements.
Time the rounds, ask for the counts, and award a prize.
Step 2: I Am Made in the Image of God (10 minutes)
Did anyone say “I am the spitting image of my dad/mom” or something similar? Yet many of us have often been told we how much we resemble one of our parents (or grandparents). Has anyone ever heard that they are made in the image and likeness of God?
Write “I am made in the image of God” on board or newsprint. Read Genesis 1:27: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’… God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.”
At first glance that might sound like it’s saying that we “look like” God. But actually, the meaning is far deeper than that. We are like God in that we have an intellect—we can reason (CCC #1704), even though we don’t always act rationally. We are like God because we have free will (CCC #1704)—even though we often exercise our will for self (pride) rather than for God. We are like God in that we can participate in creation (procreation), and we are like God in that we have a soul—a non-physical immortal part of our being (CCC #1703). But, it took Jesus to reveal to us how we are most like God.
In the sharing with your partner, did anyone say “I am alive?” [Pause for a possible reply.]
For some people, and maybe someone in this room, the very fact that they are alive is a testament to great determination and medical expertise. (Or maybe even a miracle.)
What do you think the Incarnation, the very fact that God chose to become one of us, tell us about ourselves?
Write any responses on newsprint. (Possible responses could include: we are loved; we are valuable or important; etc.)
Note to Leader: If the response “we are loved” is not mentioned, read John 3:16 as a hint “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
The Hebrew people, God’s Chosen People, knew that God loved them. There are beautiful passages in the Old Testament about the love of God, both for the people and for individuals (example: Isaiah 43:4). Jesus, both by his teachings and by his very incarnation, reinforced was that we are loved by God. But Jesus revealed something far more startling than that! Jesus revealed the mystery of the Trinity and so revealed that God IS love. God doesn’t just love, his very being IS love.
“By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret. God himself is an eternal exchange of love; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange. (CCC #221)
Pope John Paul II called God “in His deepest mystery, not a solitude, but a family of love.” God is love. The object of God’s love is the Son. The Son pours himself out in a loving return to the Father of all that He is. The Son and Father love each other so selflessly that the living love between them is the Person of the Holy Spirit.
So, more than any of the other ways we are the image of God, Jesus taught us that we are most like God in our capacity to love. The Catechism reminds us that we were given the dignity of being someone and not just something (CCC#356). Because we are made in the image of a God of love, our highest calling is to love—especially to love God back. (CCC#358)
Step 3: I am…? Round Two (5 minutes)
Tell participants to get together with their “afternoon appointment.”
Decide who is “A” and who is “B”. You will each have one minute to complete the sentence “I am…” as many ways as you can describing all the relationships or groups of which you are a part. For example: “I am a football player” or “I am Latino” or “I am a sister.” Once again, try to be a thorough as you can be. Each partner will keep track of the number of statements the other can make. For this round “A” will go first. “B” will listen and count. Then we’ll switch. I’ve got another candy bar for the person who can make the most “I am” statements.
Time the rounds, ask for the counts, and award a prize.
Step 4: I Am a Child of God and Friend of Jesus (10 minutes)
Comment and ask:
The groups to which we belong, and the relationships we have with other people play an important role in our own understanding of who we are. Did anyone say “I am a Smith” or “I am a Carlson” (or use names from your participants). Yet our family ties represent some of the stronger relationships we have and most defining groups we belong to.
Once again, Jesus surprises us with his revelations about who we are in terms of our relationships. Jesus tells us that we are Children of God.
Write on newsprint: “I am a child of God.”
The Hebrew people understood God as Father in that He was the creator of the universe. They also considered him Father of Israel because of the covenant God had with them, God’s gift of the Law (10 Commandments), and because God was the true King of Israel. The Old Testament also refers to God as the “Father of the Poor” because he offered them special protection. (CCC #238)
But Jesus revealed God as Father in a completely different way.
First, he revealed the Father in an unheard-of sense—eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son in relation to his Father. (CCC #240)
Read Matthew 11:27: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”
But the Father is not only Jesus’ Father—Jesus tells us he is our Father too!
When the apostles asked Jesus to teach us to pray, he began by teaching us to address God as Our Father.
We can call God “Father” because he is revealed to us by his Son, who became one of us to teach us, and because His Spirit makes Him known to us. (CCC#2780)
It’s not just that we can call the Almighty God by a different name. Belief in Jesus makes us a son or daughter of God. (Mark 4:35 says “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”) We have been adopted into the family! (CCC #1709).
In trying to figure out just who we are, Jesus revealed another astounding defining relationship. He is not only our Savior but our Brother.
Read John 15:15: “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.”
Write “I am a friend of Jesus” on the newsprint.
As our brother and friend, Jesus calls us to follow him—to follow his example. In union with Jesus we have the possibility of attaining the holiness that our Father created us for and the possibility of eternal life with our Father and brother. (CCC #1709)
Step 5: I am...? Round Three (5 minutes)
Tell participants to get together with their “evening appointment.”
You should be getting the hang of this by now. Decide who is “A” and who is “B”. You will each have one minute to complete the sentence “I am…” as many ways as you can describing all your characteristics and attributes. For example: “I am musical” or “I am funny” or “I am quiet.” Come up with as many as you can in one minute. For this round “A” will go first. “B” will listen and count. There’s a candy bar for the person who can make the most “I am” statements.
Time the rounds, ask for the counts, and award a prize.
Step 6: I Am Affirmed by God (10 minutes)
This round of “I am” statements says a lot about your own personal understanding of who you are—how you describe yourself. But did you ever wonder how God might describe you?
We’re going to a quick Bible scavenger hunt to find just some of the attributes God sees in you.
Divide the participants into groups of 5 or 6 if they are not already in small groups. Give each group one to three Bibles, and challenge them to look up the Scripture passages on Handout 2, How Does God See You? (give each person a copy of the handout and a pen or pencil).
Tell them they only have ten minutes to find the answers. Check their answers with Resource 4.
Next, write “I am affirmed by God” on newsprint.
Optional: Show the YouTube video clip “Stethoscope Man” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P59bUbkiXSk .
Step 7: I am…? Round Four (2 minutes)
Tell participants to get together with their “nighttime appointment.”
Decide who is “A” and who is “B”. You will each have one minute to complete the sentence “I am going to …” with as many ways as you can describing all the accomplishments you think you’ll do in your life. For example: “I am going to have a family” or “I am going to go to college” or “I am going to travel around the world.” For this round “B” will go first. You will each have only 30 seconds. There’s candy for everyone who can come up with at least 10 statements.
Ask if all participants were able to name at least 10 statements. Give a mini-candy bar to each participant.
Step 8: I Am Called to Holiness (5 minutes)
Just as you have plans for what you hope to do with your life. God, who knew you since before you were born, has plans for you—but we are free to choose whether or not we will cooperate with God’s plans.
Jesus revealed to us our vocation to us. Made in the image and likeness of God we are called to love.
Read John 15:9-10, 12: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, just as I have kept the Father’s commandments and abide in his love. … This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Jesus revealed what God’s plans are for us. And with the grace God gives us we are capable of being all God hopes for us to be.
Knowing God loves us totally and unconditionally, knowing God considers us His children and knowing all the potential God sees in each of us, we are called to freely respond to Him with faith and love (CCC #357). And ultimately we are called to attain the perfection of love, which is holiness (CCC #1709).
Write “I am called to holiness” on the board.
Jesus revealed to us who we are and what we can be. Through the grace of God, and by his example, we can do this!
So, what’s holding you back? Why are you afraid to let the eagle within you soar?
Read “Our Greatest Fear” by Marianne Williamson to the participants. Post the newsprint you prepared earlier and ask participants to take a few minutes to reflect on these two questions, using the back of their appointment sheet as a place to journal. Play instrumental music in the background.
What is one thing that holds you back from being the person God created you to be?
What is one way you can let the eagle within you soar? One way that you can live fully the person God created you to be?
Closing Prayer: Help me Believe the Truth About Myself (2 minutes)
Invite everyone to bow their heads for prayer. Distribute the prayer cards you made for the participants. Read the prayer aloud and invite them to keep the prayer card in their Bible, on the mirror in their bedroom/bathroom, or in their locker as a reminder of God’s great love for them.
Sing “Fly Like a Bird” to close.
Thank the young people for their participation in tonight’s session.
This session was written by Christina Semmel, Director of Youth Ministries, SS Peter & Paul Parish, Cary Illinois. Chris also teaches the Evangelization and Catechesis course in the Certificate in Youth Ministry Studies Program and is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Catholic Youth Ministers. Fr. Roy Shelly, Ph.D., Director of Formation and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Monterey, served as theological consultant on this session.
Handout 1 Assignments Assignments
HOW DOES GOD SEE YOU?
Bible Scavenger Hunt Matthew 5:14-16
1 Corinthians 12:27
2 Corinthians 6:16
1 Peter 2:9 (there are four answers)
Resource 1 Adaptation of Psalm 139 vs. 1-14
Note to Leader: There are spaces in this reading to insert 17 names. If you have less participants than that, say some lines without using the spaces. If you have more participants, use 2 or 3 names in some spaces.
I know when you sit, and when you stand, __________.
__________, I understand your thoughts from afar.
I know when you walk and lie down, __________, and am acquainted with all your ways, __________
Even before a word is on your tongue, _________, I know all about it.
I surround you, _________, and lay my hand on you.
Such amazing knowledge of all you are is beyond you, but not me.
Where do you think you can go without me, _________?
__________, do you think you can hide from me?
If you climb to the heavens, __________, I’ll be there.
If you lie in death, _________, I’ll be there.
__________, if you speed away on the wings of dawn, or, __________, if you live beyond the ocean, My hand will be guiding you.
__________, my right hand will hold you fast.
If you try to hide in the darkness, _________, I will see you.
_________, it was I who formed all your parts.
_________, I knit you in your mother’s womb.
Each of you is fearfully and wonderfully made, for wonderful are my works!
Script for PowerPoint Presentation
“Fable of the Eagle Who Thought He Was a Chicken”
Slide 1: (title slide)
Slide 2: A fable is told about an eagle who thought he was a chicken. When the eagle was very small, he fell from the safety of his nest.
Slide 3: A chicken farmer found the eagle, brought him to the farm, and raised him in a chicken coop among his many chickens.
Slide 4: The eagle grew up doing what chickens do, living like a chicken, and believing he was a chicken.
Slide 5: A naturalist came to the chicken farm to see if what he had heard about an eagle acting like a chicken was really true.
He knew that an eagle is the king of the sky.
He was surprised to see the eagle strutting around the chicken coop, pecking at the ground, and acting very much like a chicken.
Slide 6: The farmer explained to the naturalist that this bird was no longer an eagle.
He was now a chicken because he had been trained to be a chicken, and he believed that he was a chicken.
Slide 7: The naturalist knew there was more to this great bird than his actions showed as he “pretended” to be a chicken.
The bird was born an eagle and had the heart of an eagle. Nothing could change that.
Slide 8: The man lifted the eagle onto the fence surrounding the chicken coop and said, “Eagle, you are an eagle. Stretch your wings and fly!
The eagle moved slightly, only to look at the man; then he glanced down at this home among the chickens in the chicken coop where he was comfortable. He jumped off the fence and continued doing what chickens do.
Slide 9: The farmer was satisfied, “I told you it was a chicken,” he said.
Slide 10: The naturalist returned the next day and tired again to convince the farmer and the eagle that the eagle was born for something greater.
He took the eagle to the top of the farmhouse and spoke to him. “Eagle, you are an eagle. You belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch forth your wings and fly!”
The large bird looked at the man, then again down into the chicken coop. He jumped from the man’s arm onto the roof of the farmhouse.
Slide 11: Knowing what eagles are really about, the naturalist asked the farmer to let him try one more time. He would return the next day and prove that this bird was an eagle.
The farmer, convinced otherwise, said, “It is a chicken.”
Slide 12: The naturalist returned the next morning to the chicken farm and took the eagle and the farmer some distance away to the foot of a high mountain. They could not see the farm nor the chicken coop from this new setting.
He spoke: “Eagle, you are an eagle. You belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch your wings and fly!”
Slide 13: The man held the eagle on his arm and pointed high into the sky where the bright sun was beckoning above…
Slide 14: This time the eagle looked up and stared skyward into the bright sun…
Slide 15: He straightened his large body… stretched his massive wings…
His wings moved… slowly at first, then surely and powerfully.
Slide 16: And, with a mighty screech of an eagle, he flew!
Resource 3Rob’s Story
Working for the church, I have many friends who also work for the church. One of my friends is the part-time Director of Religious Education at a small rural parish. She and her husband also have a small farm. One fall evening right before supper time, she left her husband at home while she went to the church to get ready for an evening meeting. It was one of those rare times in farm life when there wasn’t as much to do and her husband, Rob, was looking forward to a nice quiet evening at home where he could “veg” and eat his simple dinner in front of the TV.
Now, in order to understand what happened, you need to have a mental picture of the layout of their little farm and house. The living room had a big picture window which faced the open area between the house and the barn. On the outside of that window was a small porch with a few stairs leading to the yard. On the inside of the window (in the living) room sat the couch, directly across from the TV.
As Rob was enjoying his meal he suddenly heard a “thunk” above him behind his head. He quickly turned around but didn’t see anything. So he turned back to his TV show. But he almost immediately heard another “thunk” and quickly turned around again, to once again see nothing.
As many of you know, when it’s dark outside and you have lights on inside, when you look out the window, you usually only see your reflection looking back at you. So while Rob was staring at the window there came two more quick “thunks.” He thought it must be some kids throwing something at the window. He leaned up to the window to look closer and saw the shadow of something coming fast hit the window with a “thunk.” Sure now that someone was throwing something, he ran out onto the porch ready to yell at someone. But, in the dusk he couldn’t see anyone.
While he was standing there something zoomed in from the sky past his head and hit the window with a “thunk.” When he spun around he saw several dead birds lying on the porch under his lighted picture widow. And while he was standing there, several more birds flew right into the window. He quickly looked up into the sky and saw a huge flock of birds circling his yard, obviously looking for a place to roost for the night. Before he knew what was happening, more birds flew down and crashed into his window.
He rushed into the house and turned off all the lights. But the birds kept circling and flying into the window. In a panic, he raced across the yard to the barn and threw open the barn door.
Meanwhile, his wife was conducting her meeting, when one of their neighbors stuck her head into the meeting room and motioned that she needed to talk to my friend. Giving the participants a few moments to talk among themselves, she went to find out what was so urgent. The neighbor said: “I think you better get home right away! I don’t know what’s going on, but I just passed your farm. All the lights are off in the house. But all the lights are on in your barn, with all the doors and windows wide open. And your husband is running back and forth from the barn to the porch, flapping his arms like a bird!”
So my friend quickly wrapped up her meeting and hurried home. She found her husband sitting on the steps of the porch with his head in his hands. And dozens of dead birds on the porch. Her husband just kept saying: “I tried and tried to save them. I just couldn’t get them to understand. I tried to lead them to safety. If I only could have become a bird—I could have showed them the way.”
HOW DOES GOD SEE YOU?
Bible Scavenger Hunt ANSWERS Matthew 5:14-16 light of the world Matthew 6:26 valuable Luke 11:28 blessed John 8:31 disciples Romans 8:16-17 heirs of the kingdom 1 Corinthians 12:27 Body of Christ
2 Corinthians 6:16 Temple of the living God
Ephesians 2:10 God’s handiwork Philippians 2:15 children of God / stars 1 Peter 2:9 (there are four answers) chosen race royal priesthood holy nation God’s own
Who You Are/Whose You Are: What Jesus Teaches Us about Ourselves