A Lesson in Freedom, Part Two: Choosing well

LET’S READ  The Bad Seed by Jory John; illustrated by Pete Oswald

What makes a bad seed a bad seed? We find out in this delightful picture book. We also find out that using our freedom to make wrong choices doesn’t make us very happy. Thankfully, there are ways to reverse the process. Even a bad seed can be happy again. The characters of this simple book and the illustrations that bring their feelings to life create an unforgettable story – and a fun romp through a change of heart.

     John, Jory. Bad Seed, The. Harper Collins Publishers Inc, 2017.

Get the book at your local library, independent book seller, or 

LET’S THINK
For usOne of the great things about being a Christian is knowing that good wins. Every time. We know the end of the story, even though it may look pretty bad at the time. As God is the ultimate good AND the ultimate power, the only way we lose is if we use our freedom to make bad choices – and remain unrepentant.

We have the God-given gift of freedom in order to choose what is good. But we mess up. All the time. There are lots of reasons for our mess-ups. Our hearts can be filled to the brim with bitterness and anger – like the Bad Seed. There are real hurts and imagined hurts, betrayals and broken dreams, jealousies and failures. Sometimes we just want what we want and get mad when we can’t have it.

The Bad Seed has plenty of reason to be bitter and angry. But as is usually the case, it wasn’t getting him very far. So – just like that – he decides he wants to do something different. He decides he wants to be happy. Could he be happy using his freedom for “bad”? No. And we can’t either. How easy it was for him to change direction! It’s usually a little more complicated for us. Often, some apology is in order, and we must confess any mortal sins to be truly free of them. Sometimes we need to forgive others before we can grow. That doesn’t make the wrong any less wrong. But it does let the bad feelings move out. Then we are no longer enslaved by the results of bad choices, ours or someone else’s. We can feel the joy of freedom again. 

For our children:  
God gave us the gift of freedom. Human beings have this gift in a different way than animals do. We can think about the right and wrong of our actions. We can decide if something is good or bad. We can use our freedom to do the right thing. But sometimes our hearts are filled with anger and bitterness. That can make us want to make choices that are not good. That’s what the Bad Seed did. But just like us, the Bad Seed wasn’t very happy when he was making bad choices. It made him feel worse. So he decided to make better choices. And he became happier! It’s the same with us.

 We will make bad choices sometimes. Everyone does. It is important to be sorry when we do. We can go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation if we do things that are seriously wrong. Being sorry and making up for what we’ve done helps to let all the bad feelings out of our hearts. So does forgiving others when we are hurt. It makes us feel better and helps to heal our relationships with others. (If you or someone you know is being harmed, however, it is important that you tell an adult you trust.)

LET’S TALK   

  1. What things did the Bad Seed do that made him a bad seed?
  2. Why did he do those things?
  3. When the Bad Seed said he wanted to be happy, what did he mean?
  4. What finally made the Bad Seed happy?

LET’S DO
Make Lemonade: A Lesson in Sweet and Sour
Materials Needed: 1 cup sugar, 7 lemons, 6 cups of water, small saucepan, pitcher, a small bowl, a small spoon for each person

  1. Cut a thin wedge of out of one of the lemons (1 wedge for each person, including you). Taste a lemon wedge. How does it taste? What kind of faces do you make when you taste something so bitter?
  2. Put a small amount of sugar in the small bowl. Each person can wet their spoon with water and lightly touch it to the sugar. Then taste the sugar and talk about how it tastes. Much better!
  3. Discuss —
    1. Which tastes better, something sour or sweet? When we use our freedom to make bad choices, it is like that sour taste. We are letting something bitter be a part of us. We are choosing sourness when we act out of anger, hold grudges, and do things that hurt others.
    2. How do make life sweet again after we have made a bad choice? By saying we are sorry, asking for forgiveness and forgiving others.
    3. We will never be perfect; sometimes we will make bad choices. But we can always make it sweet again – with the sugar of forgiveness.
  4. Make lemonade!
    1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
    2. Squeeze juice from lemons. Remove seeds from lemon juice, but leave the pulp. In the pitcher, stir together the sugar syrup which has cooled, lemon juice, and remaining 5 cups of water.
  5. Enjoy your sweet and sour drink, perfect for a summertime treat!

LET’S PRAY
Dear God,
Thank you for the great gift of freedom to choose.
I use it to do many good things…
I help others and treat them kindly.
I obey my parents.
I forgive others when they do unkind things.
I am patient with younger children.
But sometimes –
I use my freedom to make choices that are not so good.
Forgive me, Lord.
Help me to keep bitter feelings out of my heart.
Help me to forgive others.
Help me to ask for forgiveness when I need it.
Help me to love others
as you love me.
Amen.

WORDS EVERY CATHOLIC SHOULD KNOW
forgive: to pardon an offense. It is hard to let go of anger when someone has done something wrong to us. To forgive someone means letting our anger and bitterness pass away. That way we can be happy again.
repent: to turn away from our sin; to be sorry for it and to intend not to do it again. We repent for our sins by asking for forgiveness and making up for the harm we cause.

SCRIPTURE
The story of Joseph and his brothers who did him wrong can be found in the Book of Genesis, chapters 37-50. Joseph forgives his brothers in Genesis 50:19-21.

LET’S REMEMBER
This week, don’t let any bitter feelings take over your heart. Ask for forgiveness from one person. Forgive one person.

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