When Jesus was asked "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?,” he replied "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.” (Matthew 22:36–38) As Catholics, we are called to put God at the center of our lives.
What does it mean to put God first, and how can we communicate the goal of keeping Jesus at the center of our lives to young children?
Have a discussion with the children in your religious education classroom or home. Explain that Jesus told us that God loves all people and wants all people to love God, others, and themselves. Explain that God should be the most important one in their lives.
Talk about ways the children do and will keep Jesus at the center of their lives. Examples may include taking time for individual or family prayer, using the words and ways that Jesus taught us. Children may also name ways that they can act like Jesus or share stories about Jesus’ life and teachings with others. If you wish you could provide situational examples for the students to reflect and comment on as examples or to encourage discussion.
Download and share the Jesus, the Center of Our Lives Sunflower Activity to remind the children in your religious education program to put Jesus first using some of the actions named during your group discussion. This activity will appeal to primary students who enjoy visual-spatial and intrapersonal activities.
Distribute the activity sheets and read the directions. Give each child a sheet of yellow or brown construction paper, a half sheet of green construction paper and a craft stick. Have each child glue the activity sheet to the yellow or brown construction paper, color the flowers, and then cut it out. Help the children glue or tape their flowers to the craft sticks and make construction paper leaves. Suggest that the children display their flowers at home. Say, Every time you see your flower, remember that Jesus is the center of our lives.
Alternately, as an extension activity, you can use the completed sunflowers for a parish or school garden. Use a hallway or a public space to display the sunflowers. Stagger them at different heights for a natural look. Include a banner that says: Jesus is the center of our lives.