31st 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.


Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, November 4, 2018


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Deuteronomy 6:2-6
Moses teaches the people to love and worship God alone.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 18:2-3,3-4,47,51
A prayer of praise to God our strength

Second Reading
Hebrews 7:23-28
Jesus intercedes for us as our eternal high priest.

Gospel Reading
Mark 12:28b-34
Jesus is questioned by a scribe about the greatest commandment.

Background on the Gospel Reading

As we continue to read from Mark's Gospel, our Lectionary skips a chapter that helps set the context for today's reading. If we were to read the sections skipped (chapter 11 and part of chapter 12), we would hear about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, his cleansing of the Temple, and the questioning of Jesus' authority by the chief priests, scribes, and elders. The context, therefore, for this Gospel is Jesus' growing exposure before the Jewish authorities. Jesus is being questioned and tested by the Jewish authorities, yet the scribe who addresses Jesus in today's Gospel seems to be an admirer; he is not testing Jesus.

The question posed in today's Gospel requires Jesus to interpret the Law of Moses. The Mosaic Law consists of the Ten Commandments and many additional commandments, numbering into the hundreds. For a devout Jew, adherence to the Mosaic Law is an expression of faithfulness to God's covenant with Israel. The ranking of these commandments was regularly debated among the teachers of the Law.

Jesus was not the only Jewish religious teacher to connect these two commandments, love of God and love of neighbor. Both of these commandments were central elements of the religious tradition that Jesus learned from his Jewish community. Indeed, these commandments continue to be central aspects of contemporary Jewish religious understanding. Jesus' response to his questioners proposed an integral connection between these two aspects of the Jewish Law. Love of God finds its expression in our love for our neighbor. Many believe, however, that this connection was heard in a new and fresh way when spoken by Jesus.

The scribe who questions Jesus in today's Gospel engages in a positive dialogue with Jesus. He agrees with Jesus' teaching that the commandments to love God and love neighbor stand above the commandment to offer worship and sacrifice in the Temple. With this dialogue, Jesus appears to close the debate with the Jewish authorities. Mark reports that no one dared to question Jesus further.


Gospel Reading
Mark 12:28b-34
Jesus is questioned by a scribe about the greatest commandment.


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

Young children want to be loved and to have others show them respect. We can teach them that God also expects us to show love and respect for others.

Materials Needed (Grades 1, 2, and 3)

  • Paper
  • Crayons

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings (Grades 1, 2, and 3)

  1. Give each child a piece of paper and crayons. Allow them 10 minutes to draw a picture of someone or something they love. When they are done, collect the pictures.

  2. Say: How would you feel if I made these pictures into a booklet and showed it to all the other groups? How would it make you feel to see how proud I am of you? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Say: Now think about how you would feel if I threw your pictures into the garbage. Which action would show love for you—respecting your work or destroying it? (respecting our work) Our creations are important to us, and we want people to take good care of them.

  4. Say: In the Gospel this week, Jesus tells us about the kinds of love that God wants us to show in our lives. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  5. Read today's Gospel, Mark 12:28b-34.

  6. Say: In this Gospel, Jesus talks about how we are to love God and love our neighbor. First, Jesus says that because God loves us so much, he wants us to love him back. Second, God wants us to love other people because people are his most precious creation.

  7. Ask: How can we show love for each other every day? (by obeying our parents, by sharing with our sisters and brothers, by playing fairly with our friends, and so on)

  8. Conclude in prayer together asking God to help us show love to our family members and friends. Pray together the Act of Love.


Gospel Reading
Mark 12:28b-34
Jesus is questioned by a scribe about the greatest commandment.


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

Children have often heard us teach about the centrality of the law of love to Christian living. We can help them understand that Jesus taught us that the Kingdom of God is found in balancing our love for God, our love for ourselves, and our love for our neighbors.

Materials Needed

  • A tripod

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show the group the tripod and show them how to set it up. Ask: Will the tripod stand with just one leg? with two? (No.) Say: All three legs of the tripod are required to make it stand.

  2. Next show the group what happens if you try to set up the tripod without setting the legs to equal lengths. Ask: If one or more of the legs of the tripod is shorter than the others, will the tripod stand straight? (No.) Will this tripod work well if it isn't straight? (No.) Of course not. In order to make this stand up straight and balanced, all three legs must work together.

  3. Say: Jesus is asked a question in today's Gospel about which of the God's commandments is greatest. His answer reminds me of this tripod, which needs three legs to be balanced. Many of us will find this Gospel very familiar.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Mark 12:28b-34.

  5. Ask: Which of the commandments does Jesus say is the greatest? (to love God) But what does Jesus add to this? (He adds that we should love our neighbors as ourselves.)

  6. Ask: How are Jesus' words in today's Gospel like the tripod we discussed earlier? (God wants us to learn to balance three kinds of love: love of God, love of ourselves, and love of our neighbor.)

  7. Say: Jesus teaches us that the key to the Kingdom of God is found in balancing our love for God, our love for ourselves, and our love for our neighbors.

  8. Conclude in prayer together asking God to help us keep balance in our lives by loving God, loving ourselves, and loving our neighbors. Pray together the Act of Love.


Gospel Reading
Mark 12:28b-34
Jesus is questioned by a scribe about the greatest commandment.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people have often heard us teach about the centrality of the law of love to Christian living. We can help them further internalize this commandment by inviting them to identify and contribute to concrete actions that show Christian service to our neighbors.

Materials Needed

  • Copies of parish bulletins or diocesan newspapers

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: Most of us already know that God wants us to show our love for him by loving our neighbors. Jesus teaches us about this in today's Gospel. Many of us will find this Gospel very familiar.

  2. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Mark 12:28b-34.

  3. Say: In this Gospel, Jesus and this scribe are discussing a much-debated topic among Jewish teachers in Jesus' time. Like other Jewish teachers, Jesus taught that all the commandments of God could be summarized to say that we ought to love God and love our neighbor. These remain pious statements, however, unless we examine real-life examples of how this might be put into action.

  4. Ask each person to find a partner and distribute copies of the parish bulletin or diocesan newspaper to each pair. Instruct each pair to find at least one example of how Christians show their love for God by loving their neighbor. Ask volunteers to share their examples with the entire group. Talk about ways in which the young people in your group might contribute to these activities.

  5. Conclude in prayer together asking God to help us show our love for him by loving our neighbor. Pray together the Act of Love.


Gospel Reading
Mark 12:28b-34
Jesus is questioned by a scribe about the greatest commandment.


Family Connection

As Christians, our moral behavior is guided by the two-part commandment taught by Jesus in today's Gospel: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Many of us learned to use this framework as an examination of conscience. By examining our lives through the lens of these commandments, we have learned that the challenge of these commandments is not in our desire to follow them but in our capacity to consistently honor these commandments in our daily lives.

For one week, identify and collect news reports of how Christians show their love for God by loving and serving their neighbor. Clip these news items and share what you have heard when you gather as a family. Read together today's Gospel, Mark 12:28b-34. Talk about ways in which your family might contribute to the examples of Christian service you found. Choose one of these actions to do together as a family. Conclude in prayer together asking God to help us show love to our family members and friends. Pray together the Act of Love.