First Sunday of Advent, 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.


First Sunday of Advent, Cycle C

Sunday, November 29, 2015


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Jeremiah 33:14-16
The Lord will fulfill his promises to Israel and Judah.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 25:4-5,8-9,10,14
The Lord will teach us his paths.

Second Reading
1 Thessalonians 3:12—4:2
Paul encourages the Thessalonians to be holy and to please God.

Gospel Reading
Luke 21:25-28,34-36
Jesus teaches his disciples to be vigilant so that they will be ready when the Son of Man comes in glory.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, which is also the first Sunday of the new liturgical year. The Advent season includes the four Sundays that precede Christmas. Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord. In this season, we recall two central elements of our faith: the final coming of the Lord in glory and the incarnation of the Lord in the birth of Jesus. The key themes of the Advent season are watchful waiting, preparation, and justice.

In this new liturgical year, the Gospel of Luke will be the primary Gospel proclaimed (Lectionary Cycle C). Today's Gospel is taken from the last chapter before the passion narrative in which Jesus is teaching in the Temple. We hear Jesus speak to his disciples about the need for vigilance and prayer as they wait for the coming of the Son of Man in glory. This passage marks the conclusion of a lengthy dialogue in which Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, warns about the persecution and tribulations to follow, and identifies the signs that will signal the coming of the Son of Man in glory.

The community for whom Luke wrote his Gospel may have believed that they were already experiencing some of the events Jesus described. Most scholars believe that Luke's Gospel was written after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. At the time, many Christians interpreted this event as an indication that Jesus' second coming was near.

Though Jesus predicts a time of destruction and fear, Jesus indicates that others will be frightened; Jesus' disciples are not to fear, but are to stand tall. Yet Jesus does not promise deliverance from anxiety or tribulations. He encourages his disciples to pray for strength. The early Christian communities did not find consolation in the promise of a utopia, nor should we. Instead, we find in our Christian faith the means by which we witness to God's unfailing love for us in all circumstances.

Jesus' predictions about the end times may sound dire, but in the next paragraph Luke tells us that people woke early to listen to Jesus' teaching in the Temple area. In his person and in his message, those who heard Jesus found strength and consolation. Like the first Christians, we may encounter events and circumstances that could lead us to despair. Through prayer, however, we find strength and consolation in Jesus' words and in his continuing presence with us to endure all things and to witness to the action of God in our world.


Gospel Reading
Luke 21:25-28,34-36
Jesus teaches his disciples to be vigilant so that they will be ready when the Son of Man comes in glory.


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

Young children live very much in the present moment. We can help them focus their attention in this present moment on things that are pleasing to God.

Materials Needed

  • A deck of playing cards

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Pretend that you are a magician and ask for a volunteer. Say: I'm thinking of a card. I'd like you to deal some cards—as many as you'd like—and the last card you put down will be the card I'm thinking of. Let me show you. Deal seven cards off the top of the deck and place them in a pile. Discreetly looking at the seventh card as you place it face down on top of the other six. Say to the volunteer: If you decide to deal seven cards, this would be the card I'm thinking of. (Point to the seventh card you just put down.) Now I'm going to write down a certain card on a sheet of paper and put the paper in my pocket. Write down the card you discreetly looked at and put the paper in your pocket. Tell the class how many cards you are going to deal and then start dealing. Tell the class to concentrate very hard.

  2. When the last card is dealt, confidently tell the group that it is the card you wrote on the paper. After showing the group the card (it will not be the one you wrote on the paper), put this card at the bottom of the deck and say: You must not have been concentrating hard enough. Let's try again. This time maybe the whole class can help you concentrate. Deal the same number of cards again and let's see if it works. Now concentrate, everyone! Place the pile the child dealt on the top of the pile of seven cards you dealt and place these on top of the deck. Tell the volunteer to try again by dealing the same number of cards. Declare that you know that this last card is the card you wrote down. This time the last card dealt will match what you wrote on the paper.

  3. Say: I'm not really a magician, but while you were concentrating, I did something you didn't notice. I looked at the card. Sometimes we concentrate so much on one thing that we miss something else.

  4. Say: The Gospel this week tells us that if we concentrate too much on eating, drinking, and worrying about life, we might miss the fact that we should be trying to please Jesus, who will be coming back to earth. But Jesus also tells us what we should do so that we will be ready when he comes back. Let's listen carefully so that we will know what we should be doing.

  5. Read today's Gospel, Luke 21:25-28,34-36.

  6. Ask: What does Jesus tell us we should do to help us be ready when he comes in glory? (pray) Say: This Sunday we begin the season of Advent. During Advent we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth at Christmas and for Jesus' coming in glory. Our prayer during Advent helps us prepare our hearts for Jesus. Let's learn a prayer that we can pray each day during Advent.

  7. Teach this adaptation of today's psalm, Psalm 25: “I wait for you, O Lord. Teach me to follow your path.” Pray this psalm together. (Psalm adaptation was taken from Finding God grade 2, Seasonal Sessions, Advent, p. 206).


Gospel Reading
Luke 21:25-28,34-36
Jesus teaches his disciples to be vigilant so that they will be ready when the Son of Man comes in glory.


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

Older children are beginning to awaken to the wider world around them. We can help them navigate this exciting but sometimes overwhelming time by teaching them that prayer helps us stay focused on the things that are most important to us.

Materials Needed

  • A picture that needs to be viewed with 3-D glasses or a message that can only be decoded by using colored cellophane

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show the children the picture that needs to be viewed with 3-D glasses or the message that can only be decoded by using colored cellophane. Allow the children to look at the images with and without the glasses or cellophane.

  2. Say: As we grow up, we learn about things that are happening in peoples' lives and in our world. As we look at these things, sometimes we find it difficult to understand what is happening around us. It might seem like we don't have the right “glasses” to see things clearly.

  3. Say: In today's Gospel, Jesus predicts things that will happen at the end of time when he comes again in glory. He says that many people will not understand these things, and they will be frightened. But Jesus tells his disciples that they should not be frightened, and he tells them what they should do so that they will be able to see these things clearly. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel so that we can learn what we must do to see the events in our lives and our world more clearly.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Luke 21:25-28 34-36.

  5. Ask: Why does Jesus say that his disciples shouldn't be frightened by the signs he describes? (because these signs indicate that redemption is near) What does Jesus say that his disciples should do to prepare for these times? (Be vigilant and pray for strength to endure.)

  6. Say: We don't need to be fearful about difficult things in our lives either. We can bring these things to God in our prayer, and God will help us see things clearly and give us the strength to face everything and anything that might happen in our lives.

  7. Conclude in prayer together asking God to help us see our lives and our world clearly through prayer. Invite everyone to express their confidence and trust in God by praying the Lord's Prayer.

 


Gospel Reading
Luke 21:25-28,34-36
Jesus teaches his disciples to be vigilant so that they will be ready when the Son of Man comes in glory.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Adolescence can be a disorienting time as young people negotiate the developmental and social changes they experience. We can help young people appreciate prayer as an antidote to fear and as a means for finding consolation and strength in God.

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: As we get older, we sometimes experience a new and difficult emotion: worry. Our choices become more difficult, and we worry about making the right decisions. We are aware of more of what is going on around us in the lives of our friends and families and in our world, and we worry if everything will turn out okay. The first step to learning to cope with this emotion is to name the things that worry us. Let's take some quiet time to write privately about some things we find ourselves worrying about. I won't ask you to share what you write. Distribute paper and pencils and allow time for quiet journaling.

  2. Say: In today's Gospel, Jesus talks to his disciples about times and circumstances that many people will find troubling. But he tells his disciples that they are not to be frightened by these things. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Luke 21:25-28,34-36.

  4. Ask: Why does Jesus say that his disciples should not be frightened by the signs he describes? (because these signs indicate that their redemption is near) What does Jesus say that his disciples should do to prepare for these times? (Be vigilant and pray for strength to endure.)

  5. Say: We don't need to be fearful about difficult things or about changes in our lives either. We can bring these things to God in our prayers, and God will give us the strength to face everything and anything that might happen in our lives.

  6. Conclude in prayer together asking God for the strength to handle the things that worry us. Invite the young people to review their list of worries and to choose one to focus on in their prayer today. Allow time for the young people to pray quietly as they tell God about their worry or concern. After a sufficient time, remind them that God gives each of us the strength to handle whatever difficulties we may face. Invite everyone to express their confidence and trust in God by praying the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Luke 21:25-28,34-36
Jesus teaches his disciples to be vigilant so that they will be ready when the Son of Man comes in glory.


Family Connection

In today's Gospel, Jesus warns his disciples against the fatigue that can emerge if one becomes consumed by the anxieties of daily life. Many families are too familiar with the kind of fatigue Jesus refers to here. We may be concerned about a family member's health, our job security, our children's education, or any number of other concerns. All these are important matters. Jesus does not promise an end to daily worries and fears, but he does teach his disciples that they will have the strength to withstand anxiety if they stay focused on him, remaining vigilant for his return and praying for strength to endure all tribulations. Through prayer, God helps us stay focused on that which is most important in our lives.

As you gather as a family, recall the tradition of making New Year's resolutions in preparation for the new calendar year. Observe that today is the first Sunday of Advent, which is the beginning of the new Church year. During the season of Advent, our Gospel readings ask us to consider what is most important to us as we prepare for Jesus' coming, at his birth and at the end of time. Read today's Gospel, Luke 21:25-28,34-36. Jesus describes signs that may disturb many people, but he says that these should not to disturb his disciples. Why? (because these signs indicate that redemption is near) What does Jesus say that his disciples should do? (Be vigilant and pray for strength.) At this start of the new Church year, consider as a family what “Advent resolutions” your family might make to help you stay focused so that you will be prepared to receive the salvation we celebrate at Jesus' birth and anticipate at Jesus' second coming. Pray together for God's help in following through on these resolutions. Pray together today's psalm, Psalm 25.