14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A Sunday Connection

Sunday Connection

Sunday Connection

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. The Sunday Connection provides useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.


Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, July 9, 2017


This Sunday’s Readings


First Reading

Zechariah 9:9-10
The Lord shall come to reign in Zion.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 145:1-2,8-11,13-14
A prayer of praise to God who is our king.

Second Reading
Romans 8:9,11-13
Those in whom the Spirit of God dwells must now live according to the Spirit, not the flesh.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 11:25-30
Jesus prays in thanks to God, who has revealed himself to the lowly.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel comes after a discourse in which Jesus reproaches people who have witnessed his mighty deeds yet still lack belief. In this context, today’s Gospel explains the reason for this unbelief and reveals what is necessary for faith. Today’s Gospel also continues to enhance our understanding of discipleship as last week’s Gospel did.

Jesus first prays in thanksgiving to God who has made himself known to Jesus’ disciples. He praises God who has made himself known to the “little ones” and not to the wise and learned. As in other recent readings from Matthew’s Gospel, a contrast is made here between the unbelieving Pharisees, who are wise and learned, and the faithful disciples, tax collectors, and sinners with whom Jesus keeps company.

The second part of this reading calls to our attention the unity between the Father and the Son. God has made himself known through Jesus, and in knowing Jesus, we come to know the Father. In Jesus’ life and in his person, God reveals himself to us.

In the concluding sentences of today’s Gospel, Jesus’ teaching is again contrasted to the teaching of the Pharisees. This common theme of Matthew’s Gospel probably reflects tension that existed between Jesus and the Pharisees and between the Pharisees and the community of Christians for whom Matthew wrote. Pharisaic Judaism became the predominant form of Judaism after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem about 70 A.D. Here that tension is expressed as alternative paths of holiness. The careful observance of the Mosaic law taught by the Pharisees could be experienced by some as difficult and burdensome. In contrast, Jesus’ way of holiness is presented as uncomplicated and even restful.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 11:25-30
Jesus prays in thanks to God, who has revealed himself to the lowly.


Making the Connection (Grades 1, 2, and 3)

Young children, who are learning so many new things every day, can feel overwhelmed by their attempts to embrace the challenges that life presents to them. Jesus offers consolation to them when he says that the lessons and knowledge he has to teach us about God are not burdensome, but light.

Materials Needed

  • Large, wrapped, empty box

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show the group the large, wrapped, empty box that you have prepared. Say: This is such a large box; it must have something very wonderful in it. But it is so large, it is probably very heavy. What do you think? Allow time for the group to wonder about the box, but do not permit anyone to touch it or try to lift it.

  2. Say: This box makes me think about a prayer that Jesus prayed to God and about something he said to his disciples afterward. Let’s listen to what Jesus said in today’s Gospel. Read aloud Matthew 11:25-30.

  3. Say: In this reading, Jesus tells us something very important about how we learn about God. What does Jesus say? (Jesus says that we learn about God by knowing Jesus because Jesus reveals God to us. Jesus lets us see God.)

  4. Say: Then Jesus said something very important after this. What did Jesus say next? Did he say it would be difficult to learn from him? (No. Jesus said it would be easy and that we would find rest in accepting this teaching.)

  5. Say: I told you that this large box made me think about today’s Gospel, and this is why. What Jesus teaches us in this reading is very important, but it is not difficult for us to learn. It is this simple: Jesus shows us everything we need to know about God. Perhaps we should try to lift this box now to see if it is as heavy as it looks. Show the children that the box is not heavy at all by lifting it. Permit the children to take turns lifting the box.

  6. Conclude in prayer together by inviting the children to pray the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, the Lord’s Prayer.

 


Gospel Reading
Matthew 11:25-30
Jesus prays in thanks to God, who has revealed himself to the lowly.


Making the Connection (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

Young people are naturally curious about God and Jesus. Jesus tells us that there is a unity between Jesus and the Father. In Jesus we see God’s self-revelation to us.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: You are now (9, 10, or 11) years old. You have learned many things since you were born. Let’s take some time to think about some of the things that you have learned in the course of your life. Write a list of the children’s responses on the board.

  2. When the group has finished its list, ask: Which of these has been the most difficult to learn? Let the group answer this question and place checkmarks next to the items that they suggest were the most difficult things to learn.

  3. Say: In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus explain how we learn about God. He also talks about the difficulty of this task. Let’s listen carefully to this reading to see how learning about God compares to learning about the other important things.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, Matthew 11:25-30.

  5. Say: This reading begins with a prayer that Jesus prays to his Father. What does Jesus say in this prayer about who learns the most about God? (Jesus says that the “little ones” learn more about God than “the wise and the learned.”) Jesus tells us how we learn about God. What does he say? (Jesus says that we learn about God by knowing Jesus, because Jesus reveals God to us. Jesus lets us see God.) What does Jesus say in the last part of this reading about the difficulty of learning about God? (Jesus says that it will be easy.)

  6. Ask: What are some things that you have learned about God? Let’s add these things to the list that we made when we began. Add these items to the list of things that these young people have learned.

  7. Conclude in prayer together, thanking Jesus for revealing God to us. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer or the Act of Faith.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 11:25-30
Jesus prays in thanks to God, who has revealed himself to the lowly.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age can feel burdened by problems and stress. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus talks about a different type of burden.

Materials Needed

  • Index cards
  • Pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Distribute an index card to each of the young people. Ask them to make lists of what they typically have in their backpacks or school bags on any given day.

  2. When they are finished, invite several volunteers to read their lists aloud. Take a vote as to whose backpack or school bag seems like it might be the heaviest.

  3. Say: When we carry something heavy on our shoulders, we refer to it as a burden. Some burdens are heavier than others. Not all burdens are physical things, however. What are some examples of the kinds of burdens in life that people carry? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  4. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells us how we can lighten our burden.

  5. Have a volunteer read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Matthew 11:25-30.

  6. Ask: What does Jesus say that we should do if we are burdened? (Go to him for rest.) What is a “yoke”? (a wooden frame fitted around the neck of a person or animal and used to help carry things) What does Jesus mean when he says that his yoke is easy and his burden light? (To follow Jesus places a burden on us, but it is a lighter burden than what we would carry if we did not follow him.)

  7. Say: One of the ways that we find rest in Jesus is through prayer. In prayer, we share our burdens with Jesus. Let’s take some time now to share our burdens with the Lord and to find rest.

  8. Allow a few minutes for silent prayer. Invite the young people to share with the Lord whatever may be burdening them and to ask for rest.

  9. Conclude by praying together the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 11:25-30
Jesus prays in thanks to God, who has revealed himself to the lowly.


Family Connection

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches an important lesson for families: from the youngest and simplest among us we can learn the most profound insights about God. Parents who are attentive to this reality can learn much from their children even as their children are learning from them. Families who create time and space for encounters with God will enrich the faith of all who share in family life.

Gather as a family and read together today’s Gospel, Matthew 11:25-30. Allow time for each person to reflect on what Jesus reveals to us about God. Invite each person to show these things in a creative way, perhaps through a picture, poem, or some other means. Share these with one another. Conclude in prayer together, thanking Jesus for making God known to us. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer or today’s Psalm, Psalm 145.