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.


Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, June 15, 2008

First Reading
Exodus 19:2-6a
God tells Moses that the Israelites will be his special people.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 100:1-3,5
We are the people of God.

Second Reading
Romans 5:6-11
Christ died for us while we were still sinners and reconciled us to God.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 9:36-10:8
Jesus sends the twelve apostles to proclaim the kingdom of heaven.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In today's Gospel, Jesus shares his mission to proclaim the kingdom of heaven with his disciples. The signs of the kingdom's presence consist of the work that Jesus has already been doing: the sick are cured, lepers are cleansed, demons are driven out, and the dead are raised to life. The disciples are sent to continue doing the work that Jesus has begun. This is a moment of transition in Matthew's Gospel. The focus has shifted from the ministry of Jesus to the work of the community that he has inaugurated. More than any other Gospel, Matthew's Gospel elaborates on the work of the Church, which is to continue after Jesus' death and resurrection.

The Gospel reports that Jesus commissions twelve disciples. Many scholars believe that the twelve disciples symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel. It designates, therefore, continuity between Israel and the Church.

Matthew lists the names of the twelve disciples, as do Mark and Luke. Matthew also uses the word apostle when referring to the Twelve. The word apostle means “one who is sent.” In this context, Matthew is calling attention to the mission that the twelve disciples are being given. They are sent by Jesus to proclaim the kingdom of heaven in word and deed.

As Jesus sent his disciples to continue his work and mission, so too the Church is sent by Jesus. The Church is his continuing presence on earth. Every member of the Church is sent by Jesus to contribute to this mission.

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

Gospel Reading
Matthew 9:36-10:8
Jesus sends the twelve apostles to proclaim the kingdom of heaven.

Young children learn best when taught by example. Jesus taught his disciples by the example of his ministry before he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of heaven.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Play a simple game with the group that requires careful attention to directions, such as Simon Says or Follow the Leader. After a short time, stop the game and gather the group together.

  2. Say: To play the game, it was important that you follow directions carefully. Is it always easy to follow directions? When can it be difficult? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Say: In today's Gospel, Jesus gives instructions to his disciples as he sends them out to do a job. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Read aloud today's Gospel, Matthew 9:36—10:8.

  5. Ask: What are some of the directions that Jesus gives to his disciples? (Jesus tells them not to go into pagan territory or Samaritan towns. He tells them to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Jesus also directs them to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons, and not to take any money for their services.)

  6. Say: Wow! Those are a lot of directions. How are the disciples going to remember all of them? Well, they are helped by one important thing. They had Jesus to show them the way. We need to keep ourselves focused on Jesus and what he does. He will show us the way.

  7. Conclude by praying together that we will be like the apostles, following Jesus' model to bring God's love to the world. Pray together the Lord's Prayer or the Glory Be to the Father.

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

Gospel Reading
Matthew 9:36-10:8
Jesus sends the twelve apostles to proclaim the kingdom of heaven.

As young people begin the process of identifying their purpose in life, we can help them discern how their purpose connects them with the mission of proclaiming the kingdom of heaven.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the group: Have you ever been sent on an errand? What were some of the things that you have been sent to do? How did it feel to be given a job to do? (Allow all reasonable responses.)

  2. Say: In today's Gospel we hear about a time when Jesus gave his disciples an important job to do. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.
  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, Matthew 9:36—10:8.

  4. Ask: What did Jesus send his disciples out to do? (to drive out unclean spirits, to cure the sick, to raise the dead) What rules did Jesus give them to follow? (Jesus told them to go only among the people of Israel, not to take money for their work, and to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.)

  5. Say: Today's Gospel also names for us the twelve apostles. The word apostle means “one who is sent.” What were the apostles of Jesus sent to do? (to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand and to show it in their deeds)

  6. Say: Even today we are sent by Jesus to be apostles, to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Like the apostles, we do not have to go to far away lands to do this. Remember that the apostles were told to stay within the land of Israel. We are sent to bring Jesus' love to our families, our schools, and our neighborhoods.

  7. Conclude in prayer together that we will be faithful apostles of Jesus. Pray today's Psalm, Psalm 100.

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Gospel Reading
Matthew 9:36-10:8
Jesus sends the twelve apostles to proclaim the kingdom of heaven.

Young people at this age are forming ideas of what they would like to do when they are adults. We can encourage them to identify with Jesus' mission now.

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pencils for each of the young people

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: God consistently calls people to spread his Word. In the Old Testament, prophets and leaders such as Moses listened to God's instructions and then shared them with God's people. Jesus sent his apostles to spread his Father's Word.

  2. Say: Jesus sent out the apostles in pairs to preach, teach, and heal. This was their "internship" before Jesus left them to return to the Father.

  3. Divide the group into pairs. Have them imagine that they are one of the apostles sent out by Jesus to do his work. Have them write accounts of their imaginary experiences.

  4. Tell the young people that their accounts might include the following: where they traveled, how they encountered those needing help, how they helped, how people responded, how other people present responded, how they felt at these events.

  5. Have the young people share their imaginary experiences with the group. Discuss the similarities and differences in their reports.

  6. Ask a volunteer to read the Gospel for this Sunday, Matthew 9:36—10:8.

  7. Ask: In today's world, how would you go about following Jesus' instructions to his apostles? How can we "cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, [and] drive out demons"? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  8. Conclude by praying to the Holy Spirit for inspiration and guidance to carry out Jesus' mission.

Family Connection

Every person in the Church is sent by Christ to do the work that he did. This task can seem daunting. Yet when we have learned to work together with others to achieve a common goal, we have learned something of what it means to do the work of Christ. The family is one such place in which we work with others, sharing a common task and a common goal.

As family members gather, invite each person to reflect upon their contributions to family life. Invite each one to share one or two things that they do to help keep your family life flowing smoothly. Take time to thank one another for the contributions each person makes to your family life.

Invite a family member to read aloud today's Gospel, Matthew 9:36-10:8. In this Gospel, Jesus sends the disciples to proclaim the kingdom of heaven. Point out that the disciples are called to work together just as family members must work together. Pray together that your family will always work together as a family to help one another. Pray that your family can be a model for other families. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.