Second Sunday of Easter, 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.


Second Sunday of Easter, Cycle C

Sunday, April 3, 2016


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16
Peter and the apostles perform many signs and wonders.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24
A song of praise to the Lord.

Second Reading
Revelation 1:9-11a,12-13,17-19
John describes the instruction he received to write down his vision.

Gospel Reading
John 20:19-31
Thomas believes because he sees Jesus.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today's reading, from the Gospel of John, is proclaimed on the second Sunday of Easter in each of the three Sunday Lectionary cycles. This should alert us to the significance of the encounters with the resurrected Jesus described in this reading. This Gospel combines two scenes: Jesus' appearance to his disciples after his Resurrection and Jesus' dialogue with Thomas, the disciple who doubted.

Part of the mystery of Jesus' Resurrection is that he appeared to his disciples not as a spirit but in bodily form. We do not know exactly what this form was like. Earlier in John's Gospel, when Mary of Magdala first encountered the risen Jesus, she did not recognize the figure standing before her until Jesus spoke her. In Luke's Gospel, the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus until he broke bread with them. We know from readings such as today's that in his resurrected body, Jesus was no longer bound by space; he appeared to the disciples in spite of the locked door. And yet, on this resurrected body, the disciples could still observe the marks of his Crucifixion.

In today's Gospel, Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus also commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun. As Jesus was sent by God, so too does Jesus send his disciples. This continuity with Jesus' own mission is an essential element of the Church. Jesus grants the means to accomplish this mission when he gives his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit binds us together as a community of faith and strengthens us to bear witness to Jesus' Resurrection.

Jesus' words to his disciples also highlight the integral connection between the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness and reconciliation are gifts to us from Jesus. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can share these with others. This is another essential aspect of what it means to be Christ's Church. The Church continues Jesus' ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Thomas, the disciple who doubts, represents the reality of the Church that comes after this first community of disciples. All but the first disciples of Jesus must believe without seeing. Like Thomas, we may doubt the news that Jesus, who was crucified and buried, appeared to his disciples. It is part of our human nature to seek hard evidence that the Jesus who appeared to the disciples after his death is, indeed, the same Jesus who was crucified. Thomas is given the opportunity to be our representative who obtains this evidence. He gives witness to us that the Jesus who was raised is the same Jesus who had died. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are among those who are blessed for we have not seen and yet have believed.


Gospel Reading
John 20:19-31
Thomas believes because he sees Jesus.


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

Young children are concrete thinkers and, for them, seeing is believing, literally. We can help them understand that when their actions reflect their faith, they may lead others to believe in Jesus as well.

Materials Needed

  • Glass of water
  • Ice cube
  • String
  • Salt

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Bring to class a glass of water with an ice cube floating in it, a string, and a salt shaker. Say to the class: I can lift this ice cube out of the glass using only a string. Can you? Allow children to try.

  2. Ask: Do you believe that I can do it? Demonstrate by dipping the end of the string in the water, laying it across the top of the ice cube, and sprinkling salt on it. Wait about ten seconds. The string will be stuck to the ice cube, and you'll easily be able to lift it out of the water.

  3. Say: Isn't it hard to believe something unless we actually see it? In the Gospel reading this week, one of Jesus' friends, Thomas, finds it hard to believe that his friends have seen Jesus risen from the dead.

  4. Read aloud today's Gospel, John 20:19-31

  5. Ask: What does Thomas say he must do to believe that his friends have seen Jesus? (Thomas says he wants to see Jesus for himself.) What happened when Thomas saw Jesus? (He believed.) What does Jesus say to Thomas? (You believed because you saw me; “blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”)

  6. Say: Though Jesus wants us to believe even without seeing, we can help others believe by being good examples. If we show love to people because we are followers of Jesus, they may choose to be followers of Jesus too.

  7. Conclude in prayer together by praying the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love.


Gospel Reading
John 20:19-31
Thomas believes because he sees Jesus.


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

Some things just seem to go together. From this experience, we can help older children identify the gifts from Jesus given to us at Baptism that sustain us as his disciples: forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, and peace.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Play the “What Am I Thinking” game. Name the first of a pair of items that we usually think about together and ask the students to complete the pairing. For example, Say: Peanut butter and [jelly]; pencil and [paper]; cheese and [crackers]; soap and [water]; socks and [shoes]. You might continue the game by asking volunteers to name the first of a pair and see if the group can name the second item.

  2. Introduce today's Gospel. Say: Jesus also paired together two important gifts when he greeted his disciples after his Resurrection. Listen carefully as we read today's Gospel to identify the two gifts that Jesus gave to his disciples.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, John 20:19-31.

  4. Ask: What gift is named is the greeting that Jesus spoke to his disciples after his Resurrection? (peace) What gift did Jesus them give to his disciples next? (the Holy Spirit) What did Jesus then send his disciples to do? (forgive sins)

  5. Say: We have received the gift of the Holy Spirit in our Baptism. What also happened when we were baptized? (Our sins were forgiven.) The Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins, and the gift of peace (which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit) are given to us. When we have these gifts, we can be people who forgive others as Jesus taught.

  6. Conclude by praying together that we will allow the Holy Spirit to make us people who forgive others. Pray together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.


Gospel Reading
John 20:19-31
Thomas believes because he sees Jesus.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people are growing in their awareness that they are called to be witnesses to Christ. We can help them identify the gifts from Jesus given to us at Baptism that help us be witnesses to Christ: forgiveness of our sins, the Holy Spirit, and peace.

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pens

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Identify words and gestures people use to greet one another. (For example, we say “Hi,” “Hello,” and “How are you?” We shake hands.)

  2. Say: After his Resurrection, Jesus greeted his disciples with a very particular greeting. Let's identify this greeting that we will hear several times in today's Gospel.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, John 20:19-31.

     

  4. Ask: With what words did Jesus greet his disciples? (“Peace be with you.”) How many times does Jesus use this greeting in today's Gospel? (three) What happens when Jesus first appears to his disciples? (He breathes on them and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit) What does Jesus then send his disciples to do? (forgive sins)

  5. Say: We have received the gift of the Holy Spirit in our Baptism. What also happened when we were baptized? (Our sins were forgiven.) The Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins, and the gift of peace (which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit) are given to us. When we have these gifts, we can be people who forgive others as Jesus taught.

  6. Encourage the young people to write prayers asking the Holy Spirit to help us be people who forgive and share Christ's peace with others.

  7. Invite volunteers to share their prayer as a concluding prayer, or pray together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.


Gospel Reading
John 20:19-31
Thomas believes because he sees Jesus.


Family Connection

Our family life would no doubt be enhanced if we were able to transform Jesus' greeting into a central feature in our family's interactions. After his Resurrection, “Peace be with you” is the first thing that Jesus says to his disciples. This could be our daily family prayer for one another. In today's Gospel, we also hear that Jesus next breathed on his disciples and gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Baptism, each of us has received the gift of the Holy Spirit as well as the forgiveness of sins. Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Our Baptism, then, invites us to share in the peace that Christ gave to his disciples and commissions us to share that peace of Christ by generously forgiving others as Jesus taught.

As you gather as a family, think about gifts that you might receive together such as a coloring book and crayons, a book and bookmark, or an electronic item and batteries. Observe that Jesus also paired two gifts together in today's Gospel. Read aloud this Sunday's Gospel, John 20:19-31. Discuss the two gifts Jesus gave to his disciples: peace and the Holy Spirit. Ask: What were the disciples to do with these gifts? (They were sent as Jesus was sent by the Father to forgive sins.) Recall that we have each received Jesus' gift of the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and that peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Observe that since we also have received these gifts from Christ, we are also sent to be people who forgive others as Jesus taught. Determine an action that your family can do to share peace and forgiveness with one another. Pray together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit or the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.