Second Sunday of Lent, Cycle 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.


Second Sunday of Lent, Cycle B

Sunday, February 25, 2018


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Genesis 22:1-2,9a,10-13,15-18
Abraham obeyed God and prepared to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 116:10,15,16-17,18-19
A prayer of faithfulness to God

Second Reading
Romans 8:31b-34
God's faithfulness is shown in his offering of his own Son for our salvation.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On the second Sunday of Lent in each Lectionary cycle, the Gospel reading proclaims the story of Jesus' Transfiguration. This event is reported in each of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This year, in Lectionary Cycle B, we hear Mark's report of this event.

The context for Mark's Transfiguration story is similar to that found in both Matthew's and Luke's Gospel. The Transfiguration occurs after Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus' prediction about his passion. After this, in each of these Gospels, there is also a discussion of the cost of discipleship.

In each case, Jesus takes three of his disciples—Peter, James, and John—to a high mountain. While they are there, Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus. In Matthew's and Mark's Gospel, there is reference to a conversation among Jesus, Elijah, and Moses, but only Luke's Gospel includes the detail that this conversation is about what Jesus will accomplish in Jerusalem.

Elijah and Moses are significant figures in the history of Israel. Moses led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and received from Yahweh the Ten Commandments. In appearing with Jesus at his Transfiguration, Moses represents the Law that guides the lives of the Jewish people. Elijah is remembered as one of the most important prophets of Israel who helped the Israelites stay faithful to Yahweh. Some Jews believed that Elijah's return would signal the coming of the Messiah for the Jewish people. This belief is evidenced in the question posed by Jesus' disciples after they have witnessed the Transfiguration. The appearance of these two important figures from Israel's history with Jesus signifies Jesus' continuity with the Law and with the prophets and that Jesus is the fulfillment of all that was promised to the people of Israel.

On seeing Jesus with Elijah and Moses and having witnessed his Transfiguration, Peter offers to construct three tents for them. Mark reports that the disciples are terrified by what they have witnessed and that Peter's offer is made out of confusion. We also notice that Peter has reverted from his earlier confession that Jesus is the Messiah, calling Jesus rabbi instead. As if in reply to Peter's confusion, a voice from heaven speaks, affirming Jesus as God's Son and commanding the disciples to obey him. This voice from heaven recalls the voice that was heard at Jesus' baptism.

In his Transfiguration, we see an anticipation of the glory of Jesus' Resurrection. In each of the reports of the Transfiguration, Jesus instructs the disciples to keep secret what they have seen until after the Son of Man has risen from the dead. The disciples' confusion continues as they wonder what Jesus means by rising from the dead. The disciples cannot possibly understand Jesus' Transfiguration until they also witness his passion and death. We hear the story of Jesus' Transfiguration early in Lent, but we have the benefit of hindsight. In our hearing of it, we anticipate Jesus' Resurrection, even as we prepare to remember Jesus' passion and death. 

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John.


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

Young children love to share stories about events in their lives. We can lead them to appreciate the Bible as stories told by Jesus' followers so that we might believe that Jesus is God.

Materials Needed

  • A scrapbook or photo album
  • A Bible

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Bring a scrapbook or photo album and show it to the class. Ask the children what memories they have tried to preserve through photos or newspaper clippings. Say: When something special happens, we try to make it last by recording it. If Jesus walked into our room this very moment, what would you remember about him to tell your family? (what Jesus looked like and what he said) What questions would you ask him?

  2. Say: In the Gospel this week, Jesus was with his friends on top of a high mountain when suddenly his clothes began to glow and two great men appeared with him— Moses and Elijah, who had died long before Jesus was born. Moses led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and gave them the Ten Commandments. Elijah was a great prophet who taught the people to be faithful to God. Let's listen to this story from our Gospel.

  3. Read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 9:2-10.

  4. Say: This was a special moment for Jesus' friends because they saw that Jesus is God. Peter wanted to preserve this memory by making three houses on the mountain—one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Jesus' friends were probably anxious to tell everyone at home what had happened on the mountain. But Jesus asked them to wait until after his death when he could prove to everyone that he is God by coming back to life.

  5. Say: After Jesus died and rose, his friends shared this special memory. It was written in the Bible so that we too could know for sure that Jesus is God. Show the children the Bible and allow time for the children to look through it. Invite them to name other things that they have learned about Jesus from the Bible.

  6. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for all the memories of Jesus that have been shared with us in the Bible. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

 


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

All of us seek affirmation in our lives, words and experiences that help us to know that we are on the right track. In Jesus' Transfiguration we see God's affirmation of Jesus and an affirmation of our faith that Jesus is God's own Son.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Photos of a memorable event you witnessed (for example, a wedding ceremony, a graduation, or a spectacular scene in nature)Ask: How do you know if you are dong the right thing, if you are on the right track in learning a new skill? What things do your teachers, parents, or coaches do to let you know that you are on the right track? (e.g., in words of praise and encouragement)

  2. Say: When we hear words of praise or encouragement, we sometimes say that we have been affirmed. To affirm something is to say yes to it. In today's Gospel we learn about an importation affirmation experience in the life of Jesus and his disciples. It is called the Transfiguration. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel so that we can identify how Jesus is affirmed by this event and who offered this affirmation.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, Mark 9:2-10.

  4. Ask: What do the disciples see happening in today's Gospel? (Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus; Jesus appearance is transformed into dazzling white; a voice from heaven speaks about Jesus) Who are Elijah and Moses? (important people from Israel's history; Moses led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and received the Ten Commandments; Elijah was a prophet of Israel who helped the Israelites stay faithful to Yahweh.) What are some of the things this event affirms about Jesus? (Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Israel; Jesus will be glorified by God; Jesus is the Son of God.) Do the disciples understand what they have witnessed? (No.) When will they understand what they have seen? (after Jesus rises from the dead)

  5. Say: During Lent we seek to change our lives for the better, looking for ways in which we can be more faithful to Jesus. But we might also identify those aspects of our lives that we want to affirm and to continue. We want to recommit ourselves to the good things in our lives, for example, prayer and service to others. In our prayer today, let's each try to identify one thing in our life that we should be affirming during Lent and one thing that God might affirm in our lives.

  6. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for helping us to follow Jesus. Allow time for reflection on the things in our lives that we ought to be affirming. Pray together the Prayer of Saint Richard of Chichester.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

In photographs, scrapbooks, and journals, we record memorable experiences and reflect on the significance of these events in our lives. Events in the life of Jesus, such as the Transfiguration, are recorded in the Gospels to deepen our understanding of Jesus.

Materials Needed

  • Photos of a memorable event you witnessed (for example, a wedding ceremony, a graduation, or a spectacular scene in nature)

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show one or more photos as you describe an event that you were especially glad to have witnessed. Invite the young people to describe specific events that they have been glad to witness.

  2. Ask the young people what they might do to preserve these memories in addition to taking photos (for example, describe the event in a letter, write about it in a journal, keep mementos of it in a scrapbook).

  3. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, three of Jesus’ disciples witness a spectacular event that leads one of them to say, “It is good that we are here!” Listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Mark 9:2–10.

  5. Ask: What do the disciples witness in today’s Gospel? (Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus; Jesus’ clothes become dazzling white; a voice from heaven speaks about Jesus.) Who are Elijah and Moses? (Elijah was a prophet of Israel who helped the Israelites stay faithful to Yahweh. Moses led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and delivered the Ten Commandments.) Why do you think Peter says, “It is good that we are here!”? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What does Peter want to do? (make tents for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus)

  6. Say: It was good that Peter was present at the Transfiguration, but not for the reason he thinks. What instruction does Jesus give to his disciples after the Transfiguration? (not to tell anyone until after Jesus has risen from the dead)

  7. Say: Peter and the other disciples were privileged to witness the Transfiguration so that they would later understand the meaning of Jesus’ passion, death, and Resurrection. What do they learn about Jesus at the Transfiguration that will help them understand Jesus better? (Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Israel. Jesus will be glorified by God. Jesus is the Son of God.)

  8. Say: In the Transfiguration, we glimpse the glory of Jesus’ Resurrection, which we celebrate at Easter. During Lent, we take time to seek greater appreciation for the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection by learning more about him. What are some things you can do this Lent to learn more about Jesus? (Accept all reasonable answers, such as reading the Bible, spending time in prayer, paying close attention at Mass.) Encourage the young people to choose one of these practices to focus on during Lent.

  9. Conclude by  praying together that we will grow in appreciation for the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection as we learn more about Jesus during Lent. Pray together the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 116.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John.


Family Connection

Every family has special moments that they remember and share again and again. In sharing these stories, the meaning and importance of these events develop and deepen over time. This is how it was with the disciples' remembrance of Jesus' Transfiguration. The full significance of what they had seen and experienced could only be understood after Jesus' death and Resurrection. As they told other believers about this event and recorded the story for us in the Bible, our understanding of what it means to call Jesus God's own Son has also deepened.

As you gather as a family, think about some special family memories that your family tells over and over again. Talk about why these memories are important to you. Recall that in the Bible we find many important memories about Jesus that have been recorded for us so that we can believe that Jesus is God's Son. Read today's Gospel, Mark 9:2-10. What do we learn about Jesus from this Gospel? (He fulfills the promises God made to Israel through the Law and the prophets. God glorified Jesus in his Resurrection. Jesus is God's Son.) Conclude in prayer together that as we continue to read the Bible, we will deepen our understanding of and our love for Jesus. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.