Second Sunday of Lent, 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 Lent, Cycle C

Sunday, February 21, 2016

This Sunday's Readings

First Reading
Genesis 15:5-12,17-18
God makes a covenant with Abraham, promising him many descendants.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 27:1,7-8,8-9,13-14
A prayer to God who is our salvation

Second Reading
Philippians 3:17-4:1 (or shorter form, Philippians 3:20-4:1)
Paul encourages the Philippians to remain firm in their faith that Christ will subject all things to himself.

Gospel Reading
Luke 9:28b-36
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, John, and James.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On the second Sunday of Lent, we move from Jesus' retreat to the desert and temptation by the devil to the glory shown in Jesus' Transfiguration. On the first Sunday of Lent, our Gospel always tells the story of Jesus' temptation in the desert. On the second Sunday, we always hear the story of Jesus' Transfiguration.

The report of Jesus' Transfiguration is found in each of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The context for Luke's Transfiguration story is similar to that found in both Matthew and Mark. The Transfiguration occurs after Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus' prediction about his Passion. After the prediction there is a discussion of the cost of discipleship in each of these Gospels. The placement of the Transfiguration story close to Peter's confession and Jesus' prediction encourages us to examine the Transfiguration in the larger context of the Paschal Mystery.

The Transfiguration occurs on a mountain in the presence of just three of Jesus' disciples—Peter, James and John. These are among the first disciples that Jesus called in Luke's Gospel. We recently heard this Gospel at Mass, on the fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Only Luke's Gospel, which often describes Jesus at prayer, indicates that Jesus is praying as his appearance changes to bright white. Luke indicates that the three disciples were sleeping while Jesus prayed. They will be sleeping again as Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane before his Passion and death.

As they awake, Peter and the disciples see Jesus Transfigured and Elijah and Moses present with Jesus. Elijah and Moses, both significant figures in the history of Israel, represent Jesus' continuity with the Law and the Prophets. In Matthew's and Mark's Gospels, there is reference to conversation among Jesus, Elijah, and Moses, but only Luke's Gospel explains that this conversation is about Jesus' later accomplishments in Jerusalem. Luke describes this as his exodus, connecting Jesus' Passion, death, and Resurrection with the Israel's Exodus from Egypt.

On witnessing Jesus' Transfiguration and seeing Jesus with Elijah and Moses, Peter offers to construct three tents for them. Having just awoken, perhaps Peter's offer was made in confusion. We also notice that Peter reverted from his earlier confession that Jesus is the Messiah, calling Jesus “master” instead. As if in reply to Peter's confusion, a voice from heaven speaks, affirming Jesus as God's Son and commanding that the disciples listen to him. This voice from heaven recalls the voice that was heard at Jesus' baptism which, in Luke's Gospel, spoke directly to Jesus as God's Son.

In his Transfiguration, we see an anticipation of the glory of Jesus' Resurrection. In each of the reports of the Transfiguration, the disciples keep secret what they have seen. Not until they also witness his Passion and death will the disciples understand Jesus' Transfiguration. We hear this 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
Luke 9:28b-36
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, John, and James.

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

Younger children are learning that things are not always as they immediately appear. We can use these experiences to reflect on the experience of the Transfiguration, when Jesus appeared to his disciples in glory.

Materials Needed

  • An apple seed
  • Some yarn
  • A piece of wood
  • A picture of Jesus

 Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Bring to class an apple seed, some yarn, and a piece of wood. Have the children sit in a circle with these items in the center. Ask: What are these things? Allow the children to name the items.

  2. Say: Yes, but they are more than they appear. The apple seed is more than just a seed. Once it's planted it will become a tree that will produce bushels of apples. The yarn is more than yarn. Once someone knits it, the yarn will become a blanket for a brand new baby. The wood is more than a piece of wood. Once someone carves it into shape, it will become a useful doorstop.

  3. Show the children a picture of Jesus. Say: When Jesus was on earth, he looked much like any other man. He wore his hair as others did. He dressed as others did. He grew up in a family just as others did. Jesus, however, was more than he appeared to be. In today's Gospel, Jesus gave three of his special friends the opportunity to know him better by seeing him revealed as the Son of God.

  4. Read aloud this Gospel, Luke 9:28-36.

  5. Say: Not only did God show Peter, James, and John who Jesus really is, but he also told them to do something. What was it? (Listen to him.) The Gospels were written so that we would learn from them. We too must “listen to him.” How can we do this? (Obey parents and teachers, study about Jesus, imitate his loving behavior, and so on.)

  6. Conclude by praying together the Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester.

Gospel Reading
Luke 9:28b-36
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, John, and James.

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

Older children are becoming more aware of our Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. We can encourage them to appreciate these Lenten practices that prepare us to recognize Jesus' presence in our lives.

Materials Needed

  • Alarm clock

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show an alarm clock. Ask: What is this for? Do any of you wake up to an alarm clock? Have you ever overslept in the morning and missed something important because of it? What are you like when you first wake up in the morning? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Introduce today's Gospel. Say: In today's Gospel, three of Jesus' disciples almost missed something important because they were sleeping. Listen carefully to this reading.

  3. Ask a volunteer to read aloud this Gospel, Luke 9:28-36.

  4. Ask: What were the disciples doing while Jesus was praying? (They were sleeping.) What did they wake up to see? (They saw Jesus transfigured and Jesus talking with Elijah and Moses.) Do you think they understood what they saw? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  5. Say: If the disciples had stayed asleep, they would have missed this amazing event. They would not have seen Jesus in glory. They would not have heard the voice from heaven. What did the voice say? (“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”)

  6. Say: Our lives can be like this. We can be asleep, not recognizing that Jesus is with us always. During Lent, we try to “wake up” to see Jesus more clearly and to listen to what he tells us. What are some things that we do during Lent to keep ourselves aware of Jesus' presence in our lives? (We fast from food and habits that keep us from God. We pray. We read Scripture. We give alms.)

  7. Conclude by praying together the Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester.

Gospel Reading
Luke 9:28b-36
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, John, and James.

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

In our media-rich culture, we often surround ourselves with noise and never allow ourselves to meet God in quiet prayer. We can encourage young people to use the Season of Lent to seek out time to listen to Jesus through such prayer.

Materials Needed

  • Equipment required to set up competing sounds in your meeting space (e.g., music playing on a CD player, a radio set to a talk radio station, a tape recorder playing a book on tape, a TV turned on, or a videotape playing
  • A small bell
  • Paper
  • Pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. As the students gather, begin to turn on a number of competing sounds in your meeting space. Stand in front of the group and ring a small bell. When someone says that they cannot hear you, or asks what you are doing, turn off the sounds. Allow a moment for everyone to appreciate the silence.

  2. Say: Our lives are sometimes like this, with competing noises calling for our attention. When there is so much going on around us, it is difficult for us to focus on any one thing. When this happens, we can miss important things that are going on around us.

  3. Introduce today's Gospel. Say: In today's Gospel, Jesus takes three of his disciples to the mountain to pray. Why do you think Jesus went to the mountain? (It was quieter there. He was taking some quiet time away from the crowds.) Let's listen to this Gospel to see what we might find if we take some quiet time away from the noise of our busy lives.

  4. Ask a volunteer to read aloud this Gospel, Luke 9:28b-36.

  5. Ask: What happened to Jesus during this time of prayer? (His appearance changed, he was transfigured, and Moses and Elijah appeared to him.) What are Peter, James, and John doing while Jesus is praying? (They are sleeping.) What do they see when they awaken? (They see Jesus in glory.)

  6. Say: Not only did God show Peter, James, and John who Jesus really is, but he also told them to do something. What was it? (Listen to him.)

  7. Say: During Lent, we slow down and seek out time for quiet prayer. In silence we can be more attentive to Jesus who wants us to follow his word and example. Our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving help us to listen and follow Jesus more faithfully.

  8. Invite the students to write a Lenten prayer as an acrostic. Tell them to write LISTEN down the margin of a piece of paper. Tell them to write a prayer that is an invitation to listen more attentively to Jesus, each line beginning with a letter in LISTEN. Encourage the students to display this prayer at home as an invitation to spend time in quiet prayer. Conclude by praying together the Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester.

Gospel Reading
Luke 9:28b-36
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, John, and James.

Family Connection

In today's Gospel, the voice from heaven speaks to the disciples saying, “Listen to him.” The Transfiguration was a focused moment for the disciples when they heard God speaking to them and experienced Jesus in glory. They most certainly left this focused moment with a new appreciation for the importance of Jesus' words even if they did not yet understand everything that he had taught them. During Lent, we are invited to consider our attentiveness to Jesus and to one another. In the pace and noise that often characterizes family life, how well do we listen to one another? What opportunities do we have for quiet prayer?

As you gather as a family, count the number of pieces of equipment in your home that produce sound: televisions, radios, CD players, computers, video games, etc. Observe if sometimes more than one piece of equipment is playing simultaneously and how this might affect communication. Discuss the question: What is it like to try to talk with one another when this equipment is on?

Read aloud today's Gospel, Luke 9:28-36. Consider whether the noise and pace of your family life allows family members opportunities for quiet prayer. During Lent, it may be appropriate for your family to choose a time for quiet in the household by turning off televisions, radios, and CD players. Consider whether your family would like to establish such a time during this Season of Lent and suggest that it might allow you the opportunity to listen more attentively to one another and to find time for quiet prayer. Spend a few such moments as a family, asking God to help you listen well to one another and to Jesus.