Easter Vigil, Cycle C 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.


Easter Vigil, Cycle C

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Today's Readings


First Reading
Genesis 1:1—2:2 (shorter form, Genesis 1:1,26-31a)
God creates the heavens and the earth.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 104:1-2,5-6,10,12-14,24,35 or Psalm 33:4-7,12-13,20-22
A song of praise to God, the Creator.

Second Reading
Genesis 22:1-18 (shorter form, Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18)
God puts Abraham to the test.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 16:5,8-11
The Lord shows us the path of life.

Third Reading
Exodus 14:15—15:1
The Israelites pass through the Red Sea.

Responsorial Psalm
Exodus 15:1-6,17-18
The song of praise that the Israelites sang after crossing the Red Sea.

Fourth Reading
Isaiah 54:5-14
The Lord promises to redeem Israel.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 30:2,4-6,11-13
A prayer of thanksgiving for God's redemption.

Fifth Reading
Isaiah 55:1-11
A call to return to the Lord who is merciful.

Responsorial Psalm
Isaiah 12:2-6
The Lord sends his salvation.

Sixth Reading
Baruch 3:9-15,32—4:4
Israel is told to follow the way of God's commandments.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 19:8-11
A prayer of praise for God's commandments.

Seventh Reading
Ezekiel 36:16-17a,18-28
The Lord will cleanse Israel for the sake of his holy name.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 42:3,5; 53:3,4 or Isaiah 12:2-3,4bcd,5-6 or Psalm 51:12-15,18-19
A prayer of praise for God who saves us.

Epistle
Romans 6:3-11
Those who have been baptized have died with Christ.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,22-23
God's mercy endures forever.

Gospel Reading
Luke 24:1-12
The women go to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body and are greeted by two men who announce that Jesus is risen.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Each of the four Gospels reports the discovery of the empty tomb after Jesus' death. At the Easter Vigil each year, we read from one of the Synoptic Gospels. This year we are in Lectionary Cycle C and we read from the Gospel of Luke. On Easter Sunday, the Gospel reading is always taken from the Gospel of John.

In each of the four Gospels, we learn that it was the female followers of Jesus who first went to the tomb. Luke reports that the women from Galilee go to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body, bringing with them the spices they had prepared. Luke names three women who found the tomb empty: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James.

Upon arriving at the tomb, the women find that the stone has been rolled away from the entrance. They enter the tomb but do not see the body of Jesus. Before the women have drawn any conclusions about this, they see two men dressed in dazzling garments. The women are said to be terrified. When these men speak to the women, they announce that Jesus has been raised from the dead. As if to prove their announcement, the men recall Jesus' own words to them. The women leave the tomb and report to the others what they have seen and heard.

These women disciples were faithful followers of Jesus who had probably served Jesus in many ways during his journeys. Luke tells us that they remained present with Jesus on his way to the crucifixion site and witnessed his death. They came to the tomb that morning expecting to serve Jesus once again by anointing his body. Instead, they were sent to minister in a different way, as messengers to Peter and the apostles.

Yet the apostles do not believe the women. Luke reports that the women's story seemed like nonsense. It is odd that Peter goes to the tomb at all. Perhaps Peter knew these women well enough to give their story credence. Perhaps he remembered something that Jesus had said that led him to hope that the women's story was more than nonsense. Without explaining why, Luke tells us that Peter goes to the tomb to investigate the women's story. He looks into the tomb, sees the burial cloths alone, and then goes home amazed.

We see in Luke's Gospel that the Twelve (who now number eleven because of Judas' betrayal) are identified as separate from the other disciples. These men were identified as Jesus' inner circle; they hold a position of authority in the community of disciples. At the start of his ministry, Luke tells us that Jesus chose the Twelve and named them apostles (Luke 6:12-16). The word apostle means “one who is sent.” During his lifetime, Jesus prepared these apostles to be his witnesses by sending them to heal the sick, to exorcise demons, and to proclaim the Kingdom of God.

Peter is singled out from among the Twelve. The authority of Peter and the other apostles will continue to be described in the Acts of the Apostles, which was written by the author of the Gospel of Luke. We can trace our faith in Jesus' Resurrection to these witnesses. Their teaching, their ministry, and their bold proclamation of Christ's saving death and Resurrection are the beginning of the Church's witness to salvation through Christ.


Gospel Reading
Luke 24:1-12
The women go to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body and are greeted by two men who announce that Jesus is risen.


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

Young children enjoy using clues to solve puzzles. We can help them to see that the disciples needed the clues found in Jesus' words to understand Jesus' Resurrection.

Materials Needed

  • A small poster prepared with the words: Alleluia! Alleluia!

 Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Play a hide-and-seek game, having the children look for a small poster that says, Alleluia! Alleluia! Say: I've hidden an important message in our classroom. You're looking for a small poster. I'll say “you're getting warmer” or “You're getting colder” to help you find the poster.

  2. When the poster has been found, read the words to the children. Say: This reminds me of today's Gospel. Let's listen carefully.

  3. Read today's Gospel, Luke 24:1-12.

  4. Ask: What were the women looking for when they went to Jesus' tomb? (the body of Jesus) What did they find? (two men who told them that Jesus had been raised)

  5. Say: The women needed clues to understand why Jesus' tomb was now empty. The men at the tomb told the women that the words Jesus had spoken to them were the clues. These words would help them to understand that they were looking for Jesus, the living one, in the wrong place. He was not dead; he is alive!

  6. Say: At Easter we celebrate this discovery of the women. Jesus is alive with us still today. This is a wonderful thing! Jesus' words help us to understand that God continues to do wonderful things for us today.

  7. Conclude in prayer together, praising God for the wonderful things that he does for us. Invite the children to name some of the wonderful things that they know God has done in our world. After each is named, pray this response: Alleluia! Alleluia! God has done wondrous deeds!


Gospel Reading
Luke 24:1-12
The women go to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body and are greeted by two men who announce that Jesus is risen.


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

In today's Gospel, we learn that the women were looking for Jesus in the wrong place; they were looking for the Living One among the dead. We can help older children to see that our faith tells us that Jesus continues to be present to us as the Living One.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Discuss examples of finding things in their rightful places. Ask: When you want a spoon for your cereal, where do you go? When you want a towel to dry the dishes, where will you find one? When you need a pencil to do your homework, where do you look?

  2. Say: When objects such as these are in their rightful places, we usually succeed in finding them. What happens if these items are not where we expect them to be? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Introduce today's Gospel. Say: On Easter morning, the disciples thought they knew where to find Jesus. Where did they look for Jesus? (at his tomb) Our Gospel for today tells us that Jesus was not to be found in this place. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Luke 24:1-12.

  5. Ask: What did the women find when they went to Jesus' tomb? (The stone was rolled away, and Jesus' body was not there. Two men spoke to them.) What did the men at the tomb say to the women? (They asked why the women were looking for “the living one among the dead.” They told them to remember the words that Jesus had told them, that he would be crucified and rise on the third day.)

  6. Say: We sometimes look for Jesus in the wrong places, too. Jesus is alive with us today. Where do we find Jesus in our lives today? (We find Jesus when we pray with the community of the Church and in the Sacraments. We find Jesus when we serve and help people who are poor and those who are suffering. We find Jesus in his Gift of the Holy Spirit.)

  7. Conclude in prayer together that we will always believe that Jesus is alive and living among us. Pray together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.


Gospel Reading
Luke 24:1-12
The women go to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body and are greeted by two men who announce that Jesus is risen.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Like the first disciples, young people are trying to make sense of our faith in Jesus' Resurrection. We can help them see that our experience of Jesus and the words of Scripture, especially the Gospels, help us interpret the meaning of Jesus' Resurrection.

Materials Needed

  • Red plastic viewer and the card that it “interprets” (found in some board games)

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show the red plastic viewer and a card that it “interprets.” Ask how the red plastic viewer allows one to read the writing that is on the card. (It will reveal the words hidden behind the red screen of dots.) Say: Without the red viewer, the printing on this card looks like nonsense. To make sense of the nonsense, we need this special lens.

  2. Say: In today's Gospel, the women report their experience at Jesus' tomb on Easter morning. As we listen to this Gospel, pay attention to how the apostles describe the women's story.

  3. Invite a volunteer to read aloud today's Gospel, Luke 24:1-12.

  4. Ask: What did the women find when they went to Jesus' tomb? (The stone was rolled away, and Jesus' body was not there. Two men spoke to the women.) What was the reaction of the apostles when the women told them their story? (They didn't believe them.) How is the women's story described? (like “nonsense”)

  5. Say: Yet, even though the disciples thought that the women's story seemed like nonsense, Peter went to the tomb. Why do you think Peter went to the tomb? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  6. Say: Perhaps Peter's experience of Jesus and his memory of Jesus' words gave him reason to hope that the women's story was not, in fact, nonsense.

  7. Say: The men at the tomb told the women to remember what Jesus had said to them. Jesus' words would be the lens that would make sense of the women's story. Over time these words helped the apostles to understand that they were looking for Jesus, the living one, in the wrong place. He was not dead; he is alive! Their experience of Jesus became the key to their understanding of the Resurrection.

  8. Say: At Easter we celebrate this discovery of the women: God raised Jesus from the dead. We pray during the Easter Season that, as we reflect on our experience of Jesus, we will grow in faith and understanding of Jesus' death and Resurrection.

  9. Conclude in prayer together, that our faith in Jesus' Resurrection will grow strong and that we will recognize the amazing things that God does for us still today. Pray together the Act of Faith.


Gospel Reading
Luke 24:1-12
The women go to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body and are greeted by two men who announce that Jesus is risen.


Family Connection

As parents, we occasionally hear stories that can seem like nonsense from our children. When we take the time to listen more carefully, however, we can sometimes find the interpretive key that makes sense of the story. This is similar to the experience of the disciples after Jesus' Resurrection. The apostles did not understand the meaning of the women's report of Jesus' empty tomb until they discovered the interpretive key: Jesus' words to them. Jesus had told them that he would die and rise again on the third day. When the apostles remembered these words, they were able to believe the women's story and to proclaim the Good News of salvation to all.

Show a red plastic viewer and the card that it “interprets” (found in some board games). Discuss how the red plastic viewer allows one to read the writing that is on the card (It will reveal the words hidden behind the red screen of dots). Say: Without the red viewer, the printing on this card looks like nonsense. To make sense of the nonsense, we need this special lens. As followers of Jesus, we also have a special lens that helps us make sense of Jesus' Resurrection, which we celebrate on Easter. Let's listen carefully to today's Gospel to see what this is. Read aloud today's Gospel Luke 24:1-12. Ask: What did the men at the tomb remind the women about? (Jesus' words to them) These words of Jesus helped the women and the disciples believe that Jesus was truly raised from the dead. Where do we find Jesus' words? (in the Bible, in the Gospels) The words of Scripture help us believe that Jesus is truly risen. Conclude in prayer together, that our faith in Jesus' Resurrection will grow strong and that we will recognize the amazing things that God does for us in our world. Pray together the Act of Faith.