26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, B 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.


Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, September 30, 2018


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Numbers 11:25-29
The Lord bestows his spirit on the seventy elders.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 19:8,10,12-13,14
The Law of the Lord brings joy.

Second Reading
James 5:1-6
James chastises the rich.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48
Jesus teaches that whoever is not against him is for him.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we continue to read from the Gospel of Mark. Recall that last week we heard Jesus chastise his disciples for their argument about who among them was the greatest. Jesus taught them that the greatest among them will be those who serve the least ones. In today's Gospel, the disciple John questions Jesus about an unknown exorcist who was driving out demons in Jesus' name. John's question might have been motivated by jealousy. Previously in Mark's Gospel, Jesus healed a boy whom the disciples had been unable to heal. John's question is further evidence that the disciples have not yet grasped Jesus' words to them. They continue to compare themselves to others who seem to have greater healing powers, and they do not want to share the power of Jesus' name with others.

Today the demon possession described in the Gospels might be seen as a form of mental illness, but the need for healing these syndromes was as real then as it is now. Exorcism was a common practice in first-century Palestine. Some people had the power to heal the symptoms of possession. One of the strategies used was to invoke the name of a person or figure who was believed to have the power to heal.

The disciples observed that the unknown exorcist invoked Jesus' name and was successful in his healing efforts. This unknown healer recognized the power of Jesus' name, yet he was not a follower of Jesus. In his reply to his disciples, Jesus acknowledges that deeds of faith can precede the words of faith. He also teaches that the disciples should not be reluctant to share Jesus' healing powers with others.

Later in this Gospel, Jesus teaches us not to create obstacles for those who are just beginning to have faith but to encourage even the smallest signs of faith. The Greek word used here for sin also connotes “stumbling” or “causing scandal.” In vivid terms Jesus teaches his disciples the consequences to those who would put obstacles before people who are on the road to faith.


Gospel Reading
Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48
Jesus teaches that whoever is not against him is for him.


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

Young children can be jealous of others who appear to be able to do things better than they can. We can teach them that even the smallest contributions to God's Kingdom are valued by God.

Materials Needed

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 2 cups of water poured in a clear plastic container
  • 1-inch pieces of spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons of vinegar

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Before your session, dissolve one tablespoon of baking soda in a clear container that holds two cups of water. Ask a volunteer to break off one-inch pieces of spaghetti and drop them into the container. The pieces will settle to the bottom.

  2. Say: These pieces of spaghetti are like all of us, in a way. We might spend a long time not doing anything really great. Stir in three tablespoons of vinegar; the pieces of spaghetti will rise and sink repeatedly. When we get to know God, however, we can start doing lots of things. Some of us may do bigger things than others, but we're all equal in God's eyes because we're all working for God. In the Gospel this week, the disciples needed to learn this.

  3. Read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 9:38-41.

  4. Ask: Why did Jesus' disciples want to stop the person who was healing in Jesus' name? (because this person was not a follower of Jesus) What answer did Jesus give to his disciples? (He told the disciples to let this person continue.)

  5. Say: The disciples sounded jealous because they thought that they were the only ones who would be able to heal others using the power of Jesus' name. Jesus teaches them that they should not be jealous. Instead they should remember that all who do what God wants are equal in his eyes and are working together to build the Kingdom of God. Whenever we do something good for another person, even the smallest good deed, God is pleased with us.

  6. Conclude in prayer together, asking God to keep us from being jealous of the things others can do. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48
Jesus teaches that whoever is not against him is for him.


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

Older children sometimes exclude the contributions of others in their desire to establish their own proficiency and excellence. We can teach them that Jesus calls us to avoid jealousy and to remain open to the contributions of others as we seek the Kingdom of God.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Write on the board the word jealousy. Ask the group: What does it mean to be jealous? Why might a person be jealous of another person? What are some signs that a person is jealous? (Accept all reasonable answers, but be sure that the conversation moves beyond being jealous about possessions; if needed, redirect the questions to raise the issue about being jealous of another person's abilities or power.)

  2. Say: Being jealous of another person can sometimes cause us to exclude or disregard the contributions they make. In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus' reply to a question from his disciple John about a person who was using Jesus' name to heal. It sounds as if Jesus' disciples might be jealous of this power. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel to see what Jesus teaches his disciples about jealousy.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48.

  4. Ask: Why did the disciples want to stop the person who was healing in Jesus' name? (because this person was not a follower of Jesus) What answer did Jesus give to his disciples? (He told the disciples to let this person continue.)

  5. Say: The disciples sounded jealous because they thought that they were the only ones who would be able to heal others using the power of Jesus' name. Jesus teaches them that they should not be jealous. Instead they should remember that all who do what God wants are equal in his eyes and are working together to serve the Kingdom of God.

  6. Say: This is important for us to remember. Whenever we do something good for another person, even the smallest good deed, God is pleased with us. And God wants us to appreciate the good deeds of others, who are working, like us, to serve the Kingdom of God.

  7. Conclude in prayer together, asking God to keep us from being jealous of the things others can do and asking God to help us work with others to serve the Kingdom of God. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48
Jesus teaches that whoever is not against him is for him.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

It is a normal part of adolescent development to question and even experience moments of doubt about one's faith. In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus encouraging even the smallest signs of faith.

Materials Needed

  • Pictures of an infant, a toddler, a child, a teenager, an adult, and an elderly person

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show the group the pictures of people in various stages of life. As you show each picture, ask the group to identify the stage of life represented. Ask the group: What are some ways in which we characterize the various stages of life? For example, how are infants different from toddlers? How are children different from adults? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: We know that during our lifetimes we change in many ways. We mature physically and emotionally. We learn more, and we achieve greater independence and autonomy.

  3. Say: During our lifetime our faith also changes and, hopefully, matures. But this development isn't as easily recognized as our physical maturity or growing independence.

  4. Say: In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus' disciples tell him they stopped someone from performing a healing in his name because the person was not a follower of Jesus. Let's listen to this Gospel.

  5. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48.

  6. Ask: What reply did Jesus give to his disciples about their action? (He told the disciples to let this person continue.) What did Jesus say about this person? (that he couldn't heal in Jesus' name and speak badly of him at the same time)

  7. Say: Unlike the disciples, Jesus did not make a negative judgment about this person just because he was not a follower of Jesus. Jesus saw in this person's actions the beginnings of faith. Jesus went on to talk about how important it is not to hinder a person's growth in faith.

  8. Say: There may be times in our lives when we feel like we have little faith or that our faith is weak and insecure. Jesus will not judge us for this. In this Gospel we find encouragement for these times of doubt. If we continue to pray and act on our faith during these times, Jesus will help our faith grow stronger.

  9. Conclude by praying together that our faith will grow deeper as we stay faithful to Jesus and the Church. Pray together the Act of Faith.


Gospel Reading
Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48
Jesus teaches that whoever is not against him is for him.


Family Connection

The second part of today's Gospel contains a strong message for those who share the responsibility of fostering faith. It is indeed an awesome responsibility. Today's Gospel reminds us that faith is a lifelong journey toward God. We don't always get it all or even get it right. But we pray for the grace to acknowledge and build upon even the smallest signs of faith, in ourselves and in others. There are plenty of obstacles that might prevent the growth of faith. Let us pray that we are not contributing to the obstacles that might hinder another person's faith in Jesus.

s you gather as a family, observe that there are things in our lives that nurture our faith and things that can hinder it. Talk about some of the things that nurture our faith—healthy family relationships, healthy friendships, good literature, and so on. Name some of the things that might be an obstacle to faith—unhealthy relationships, scandals, and so on. Observe that Jesus teaches us in today's Gospel that we are to do everything we can to help one another have faith in Jesus and do all that we can to avoid creating obstacles that might hinder another person's faith. Read together today's Gospel, Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48. Conclude by praying together that we will be a family that helps each other grow in faith. Pray together today's psalm, Psalm 19, or the Lord's Prayer.