29th 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-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, October 21, 2018


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Isaiah 53:10-11
Through his suffering, the servant of Yahweh will justify many.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 33:4-5,18-19,20,22
A prayer of praise for God's mercy

Second Reading
Hebrews 4:14-16
Jesus is the high priest who sympathizes with our weakness.

Gospel Reading
Mark 10:35-45 (shorter form Mark 10:42-45)
Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In this Sunday's Gospel, we continue to read from the section of Mark's Gospel that reports Jesus' journey to Jerusalem. Last Sunday we heard Jesus lament the particular challenges those with many possessions face in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus then predicts his passion to the Twelve, who are amazed and afraid. In this part of Mark's Gospel, Jesus' words to his closest disciples seem to be intended to prepare them for the events that will occur in Jerusalem.

In today's Gospel, James and John ask to be given seats of honor when Jesus enters into his glory. Once again, the disciples seem to be selective in what they hear Jesus say. They want to share Jesus' glory, but do not appear to understand that his glory will be preceded by his suffering. Jesus notes their lack of understanding and predicts the suffering they will endure for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus says that the honor they seek is not his to give. When the other ten hear what James and John have asked, Mark reports that they are indignant. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach them.

Jesus explains the importance of service and sacrifice in the life of a disciple. In particular, he seems to be preparing the Twelve for their leadership roles in the emerging Christian community. Echoing the Gospel we heard several weeks ago (on the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Mark 9:33-37), Jesus acknowledges that his teaching is countercultural. In today's Gospel, Jesus contrasts the dynamics within the community of disciples with those shown by the rulers of the Gentiles.

Following Jesus' example of sacrificial love continues to be countercultural in our day as well. We might take this opportunity to consider our models of authority and examine our own exercise of authority. On whose example do we model our leadership? 


Gospel Reading
Mark 10:35-45 (shorter form Mark 10:42-45)
Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.


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

Generosity and compassion for those in need are traits we wish to develop in young children. We can teach these values by offering concrete suggestions for serving the needs of others.

Materials Needed

  • A thin stalk of celery
  • A glass
  • Water

 Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. The night before class, place a thin stalk of celery that has leaves on it in an empty glass. By morning the stalk will be limp. Bring the celery to class. Say: This stalk of celery looks pretty sad, doesn't it? It cannot hold its leaves up by itself.

  2. Place the celery in a glass of water and say: This water will help the celery. By the end of class, you will see what it does. Many times people are sad and need help as this celery does. What kind of help do people sometimes need? (Accept all reasonable answers.) We can be like the water and help people. Jesus calls people who help others “servants.” He wants all of us to be servants.

  3. Read aloud today's Gospel in its shorter form, Mark 10:42-45.

  4. Ask: What does Jesus say will make us great in God's eyes? (to serve others; to be a servant to all) What are some things we might do to help people in need? (Contribute food to a food pantry, share our old clothes, make donations to people who are poor.)

  5. Say: All people would like to stand on their own, but sometimes they need our help until they're strong enough. We show that we are followers of Jesus when we do what we can to help people in need. Within 45 minutes, the celery will be standing noticeably straighter. Check the celery at the end of your session. You might choose to include this as part of your closing prayer.

  6. Conclude in prayer together that those people who need some help to stand on their own will find it in the service given to them by others. Pray together prayers of petition for people in need. After each petition pray, “Jesus, help us be your servants.”


Gospel Reading
Mark 10:35-45 (shorter form Mark 10:42-45)
Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.


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

In our culture, achievement is recognized through awards, prizes and other symbols of honor. Jesus teaches us that greatness in the Kingdom of God will be achieved through sacrifice and loving service.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: What honors do young people sometimes earn for their activities and achievements? (honor roll, trophies for sports programs, prizes for contests) What symbols might we be given for these honors? (public recognition, trophies, ribbons, prizes)

  2. Say: In today's Gospel, James and John seek a place of honor in the Kingdom of God. Listen carefully to this Gospel and let's see if we can identify what is the symbol of this place of honor.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Mark 10:35-45.

  4. Ask: What is the symbol of the honor that James and John seek? (a seat at Jesus' side when he comes in glory) What does Jesus say will be required of the people who will receive such an honor? (to suffer in the same way that Jesus will suffer) What is Jesus' answer to James and John? (that Jesus cannot give them the honor that they seek)

  5. Say: In the words that follow, Jesus teaches his disciples what it will take to be great in the Kingdom of God. What does Jesus say? (that those who wish to be first in God's kingdom must be the servants of others)

  6. Ask: What are some honors that are given to those who serve others? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Do you think that people serve others in order to win prizes? (Probably not.) Then why do you think people spend their lives serving the needs of others? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  7. Conclude by praying that we may receive honor in God's eyes by learning to serve others in love. Pray together the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis.


Gospel Reading
Mark 10:35-45 (shorter form Mark 10:42-45)
Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

We teach young people leadership by offering them opportunities to take responsibility for projects and tasks. Using these experiences, we can mentor young people into an understanding that Christian leadership is shown in service to others.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: Have you ever been put in charge of a project or been given responsibility for the care of others? What was it like to be the person in charge? Did others follow your direction? Did any conflicts emerge? If so, how did you handle them? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What are some things that you said or did to influence those in your care? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: When we are in charge of something, there is a temptation to exercise our authority in ways that show our power over others. Especially when conflicts emerge, many of us rely upon the power we believe our role gives us. Jesus teaches us that there is a more persuasive form of leadership.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Mark 10:35-45.

  4. Ask: What is the symbol of the honor that James and John seek? (a seat at Jesus' side when he comes in glory) What does Jesus say will be required of the people who will receive such an honor? (to suffer in the same way that Jesus will suffer) What is Jesus' answer to James and John? (that Jesus cannot give them the honor they seek)

  5. Say: In the words that follow, Jesus teaches his disciples what it will take to be great in the Kingdom of God. What does Jesus say? (that those who wish to be first in God's kingdom must be the servant of all)

  6. Ask: When we are in a position of authority, how might we exercise our power in a way that serves others? Who are models of this kind of leadership? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  7. Conclude by praying that we may receive honor in God's eyes by learning to serve others in love. Pray together the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis.


Gospel Reading
Mark 10:35-45 (shorter form Mark 10:42-45)
Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.


Family Connection

In the daily routine of family life, power struggles seem unavoidable. Whenever two or more people live together, there will be occasions of disagreement and attempts to exert influence over each other. Today's Gospel can be an invitation to consider how authority is exercised in your household. There is a temptation to exercise our authority in ways that show our power over others. Especially when conflicts emerge, many of us rely upon the power we believe our role gives to us. Jesus teaches us that there is a more persuasive form of leadership. In these daily challenges we have the opportunity to practice and teach the kind of service and leadership Jesus modeled for us in his ministry and in his passion and death.

As you gather as a family, invite family members to participate in a role play in which family roles are reversed. For example, you might assign children the role of parents putting their children to bed with parents acting like the children. Or you may have them role play parents asking for cooperation from children to clean up the family room. When the role play is finished, ask if it was an accurate picture of how this situation usually plays out in your household. Does everyone cooperate when asked? What happens when someone doesn't cooperate? How are the conflicts that emerge resolved? Observe that conflicts based on power struggles in situations such as these seem unavoidable in family life. In today's Gospel, Jesus teaches how Christians are to show their authority over others. Read together today's Gospel, Mark 10:35-45. After reading the Gospel, talk with your family about Jesus' unique message to his disciples about how they are to exercise authority. Talk about ways in which you might apply Jesus' words in your family life. Conclude by praying we may receive honor in God's eyes by learning to serve others in love. Pray together the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis.