Seventh 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.


Seventh Sunday of Easter, Cycle C

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Note: If the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated today, see May 5 for the readings and commentary.


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 7:55-60
Stephen is martyred as Saul looks on.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 97:1-2,6-7,9
The Lord is king over all the earth.

Second Reading
Revelation 22:12-14,16-17,20
Come, Lord Jesus.

Gospel Reading
John 17:20-26
Jesus prays for his disciples.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On the seventh Sunday of Easter, we always read from the 17th chapter of John's Gospel. This chapter of John's Gospel comes at the conclusion of Jesus' Farewell Discourse delivered to the disciples at the Last Supper. The whole of this chapter is a prayer of Jesus, commending himself to the Father and expressing his care and concern for his disciples. At the end of this prayer, Jesus and his disciples depart for the garden, and Jesus is arrested.

Several important themes appear in this prayer of Jesus. First, Jesus' prayer reaffirms the complete union between Jesus and the Father. Throughout John's Gospel, Jesus has been presented as the one who pre-existed with the Father and as the one sent by the Father to do his work on earth. In today's reading, we hear Jesus ask that the unity he experiences with the Father be extended to all who believe in him. He prays that we be one with each other, with him, and with the Father. We are reminded that Christ is the source of Christian unity. Through Christ, we are united with one another and with God our Father.

Belief is a major theme in the Gospel of John. It begins in the prologue and continues in the response to Jesus' signs. Belief is the reason Jesus performs signs (2:11, 4:53, 6:69, 9:38) and the reason signs have been recorded in the Gospel (20:30-31). Here Jesus prays not only for those who believe in him but for all who will come to believe in him. And he prays that the love of the Father in him may also be in all who believe so that Jesus might be in them as well.


Gospel Reading
John 17:20-26
Jesus prays for his disciples.


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

Young children are beginning to understand the value of teamwork. We can build on this inclination to teach the value and importance of the unity of the Christian community.

Materials Needed

  • Two sets of the following: One pound of uncooked spaghetti, a mound of clay, a rubber band, a block of wood or a book

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Divide the group into two teams. Give each team one pound of spaghetti, a mound of clay, a rubber band, and a block of wood or a book. Have the children hold the pieces of spaghetti together with a rubber band and stick them into a mound of clay. Ask the groups to determine how many pieces of spaghetti (standing on end) are needed to hold the block of wood or book without breaking. Give them time to experiment, and then have a volunteer from each team report their findings.

  2. Say: This experiment reminds me of the Gospel this week. We read that Jesus prayed to his Father for the safety of his followers by keeping us all close together. It's much easier to be strong when we have the help of others. Listen to the Gospel as I read it. Try to figure out what will be the “rubber band” that holds us together.

  3. Read this Sunday's Gospel, John 17:20-26.

  4. Ask: What does Jesus pray for his disciples? (to keep them united as Jesus and the Father are united as one) What does Jesus say will hold the disciples together? (the power of Jesus' name)

  5. Say: We learn in today's Gospel that the name of Jesus has power to unite us with one another and to save us. This is why we pray to God to protect us in Jesus' name. We know that God hears Jesus' prayer and our prayers in Jesus' name.

  6. Conclude in prayer together asking God to protect us from all bad things in Jesus' name. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
John 17:20-26
Jesus prays for his disciples.


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

Older children are beginning to be influenced by peer pressure and the desire to be popular. We can help them through this natural part of adolescent development by teaching them that as Christians we value friendship with God more than being popular in the eyes of the world.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: What are some things that young people do to try to be popular with their peers? (wearing particular clothes, imitating certain behaviors, and talking in a particular way) Why do people want to be popular? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: Many young people, and even many adults, do things to try to make themselves popular with others. Most people do this because they want to be liked and accepted by a lot of people. In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus prays for his disciples, but he doesn't pray that people will like them. He prays for something more important. Let's listen carefully to see if we can identify what Jesus asks for from God for his disciples.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read this Sunday's Gospel, John 17:20-26.

  4. Ask: What does Jesus pray for when he prays for his disciples? (that they will all be one in him) What does Jesus think is more important than being popular in the eyes of the world? (their unity with one another and with God)

  5. Say: Sometimes we may face a choice between something that we know will make us accepted by others and something we know to be right in God's eyes. When faced with such a choice, we can pray to Jesus to help us choose what will keep us united with God and the community of disciples, the Church.

  6. Conclude in prayer together that God will continue to protect us from all things that lead us away from God and the Church. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
John 17:20-26
Jesus prays for his disciples.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

To believe is to place our trust in someone, to place our life in their hands, and to enter into a relationship with them. When we pray the Creed and say, “I believe,” we are saying that we trust God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—we place our lives in his hands.

Materials Needed

  • Trivia questions

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Play a version of celebrity tic-tac-toe, similar to the long-running TV game show.

  2. Invite two young people to participate as contestants (one as X and the other as O) and nine others to participate as the celebrities.

  3. Using celebrity names, create a tic-tac-toe chart on the board, with each celebrity being assigned one of the boxes.

  4. Have the contestants take turns selecting a celebrity, who will be asked a trivia question from those you've prepared ahead of time.

  5. The celebrity may give a correct answer or may bluff with a wrong one.

  6. The contestant must respond with either “I agree” or “I disagree.” If the contestant is correct, he or she wins that square. If the contestant is wrong, the other contestant wins the square.

  7. Play until someone wins the tic-tac-toe game. When you are finished, say: We believe in a lot of things that we ourselves don't know for sure. That can be fun when it's a game, but it makes life somewhat of a challenge. In today's Gospel, Jesus prays that we will place our belief in him and that, as a result, we will experience unity with him and with one another.

  8. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, John 17:20-26.

  9. Conclude by praying together the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed.


Gospel Reading
John 17:20-26
Jesus prays for his disciples.


Family Connection

One of the greatest gifts that we are given in our family life is protection from harm. Families work together to keep one another safe in a physical sense. Think of the effort a family makes to “child-proof” their home for infants and toddlers. Families also work to protect each other from emotional harm. For example, we attend to the ways in which family members talk to one another so that we do not hurt one another's feelings by our words. Most importantly, families work together to protect each other from those things that might harm us spiritually. We shield our children from those things in our culture that tempt us away from God. When families work together to strengthen their sense of God and community, we build the spiritual strength to turn from those things that would lead us away from God and the Church. Jesus' prayer for his disciples can also be a prayer for our family life.

Gather as a family and talk about the things that you want most for each other. Talk about the fact that as we work toward these things we also work to protect one another from other things, especially harmful things. What do you want to protect each other from? Observe that in today's Gospel, Jesus shows these same two tendencies as he prays for something he wants for his disciples and prays for their protection as well. Read together this Sunday's Gospel, John 17:20-26. Consider what Jesus wants for his disciples (union with the Father as Jesus is united with the Father). We know that when Jesus prayed for his disciples he was praying for us as well. We pray for these things as well—for example, when we pray the Lord's Prayer. Conclude by praying the Lord's Prayer together.