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.

Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, June 25, 2023

This Sunday's Readings

First Reading
Jeremiah 20:10-13
Jeremiah expresses confidence that the Lord will protect him.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 69:8-10,14,17,33-35
God responds to the prayers of those in need.

Second Reading
Romans 5:12-15
Sin came into the world through one person; so salvation came through one person for many.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 10:26-33
Jesus assures the Twelve that God cares about them.

Background on the Gospel Reading

We read today’s Gospel in the context of last week’s Gospel in which Jesus sent the twelve disciples to proclaim the kingdom of heaven. In between last week’s reading and today’s reading, Jesus has predicted that the disciples will face difficulties in their mission. Many people will not receive them well, even within the land of Israel. Even family members will turn away from the disciples because of the disciples’ commitment to Jesus and the kingdom. Today’s Gospel offers the disciples consolation against this difficult truth.

This section of Matthew’s Gospel should be read in the context of Matthew’s intended audience, a Jewish-Christian community. The Gospel alludes to the dangers and persecutions that this community has most likely already faced and will continue to face. To reassure this community, Matthew recalls for them the encouraging words of Jesus that we read today.

In this Gospel passage, Jesus might be understood as putting suffering in perspective. The disciples of Jesus are called upon to keep their focus on God. Those who can harm the body do not have ultimate power; God does. Still persecution and suffering can not be avoided or prevented. But Jesus reassures his disciples that God knows and cares about what happens to his children.

We might not face the same type of persecution, but we do experience difficulties as we endeavor to live a Christian life. Sometimes we let the opinions of others prevent us from doing what we know to be right. We need the reminder that what God thinks about us is more important. We are reassured by the promise that God cares for us and protects us.

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

Gospel Reading
Matthew 10:26-33
Jesus assures the Twelve that God cares about them.

Younger children often delight in the attention of adults and feel safe and reassured when they sense they are known and cared for. Teach children that God knows everything about them and that they can trust his love and protection.

Materials Needed

  • a sheet of paper for each child with the words “God knows me and loves me” written at the top, coloring pencils or markers

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Distribute a sheet of paper and coloring pencils or markers to each child. Invite a volunteer to aloud the words on the paper. Then ask children to draw a picture of themselves underneath the words. As they draw, ask children to think of two important things that God knows about them. (If needed, give an example, such as “God knows I like to play soccer.”) Have children write their two examples on the back of the page. Help younger children if needed.

  2. After children have finished drawing, say: In today’s Gospel reading, the disciples are feeling afraid. Jesus tells the disciples that God knows, loves, and protects them. Listen carefully as I read.

  3. Read aloud today’s Gospel, Matthew 10:26–33.

  4. Say: Jesus said that God knows how many hairs we have on our head. Ask: Does that mean God knows us well or just a little? (well) Say: Jesus tells us we do not need to be afraid because the Father knows us and cares for us.

  5. Ask volunteers to share their drawings and, if they wish, to tell the two things God knows about them.

  6. Close by praying the Glory Be to the Father.

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

Gospel Reading
Matthew 10:26-33
Jesus assures the Twelve that God cares about them.

Older children are beginning to move beyond simple childhood fears to experience “grown-up” concerns and worries. We can help them through this time of transition by highlighting God’s care for each person.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the group to name some things that people fear. Then ask: What are some things people do to calm their fears? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: In today’s Gospel, Jesus talks to his disciples about fear. What might Jesus’ disciples have been afraid of? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Let’s listen carefully to today’s Gospel to hear what Jesus tells them.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today’s Gospel, Matthew 10:26-33.

  4. Ask: From this reading, what kind of fears do you think Jesus was talking about? (persecution for one’s beliefs) What reassurance does Jesus give to his disciples? (God knows our fears. We are valuable to God. If we persevere during persecution, we will be rewarded.)

  5. Ask: Is it easy to stand up for what one believes? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What challenges have you had to face when standing up for your beliefs? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What reassurance do you hear in this Gospel for these challenges? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  6. Conclude in prayer together for the strength to remain faithful to Jesus and the Gospel, even when it is difficult. Pray together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Gospel Reading
Matthew 10:26-33
Jesus assures the Twelve that God cares about them.

Young people at this age understand that their actions have consequences; choosing one way precludes going another. Choosing to follow Christ means giving up things in order to gain eternal life.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people to count the number of hairs on their heads. If they laugh or question you, look like you are serious.

  2. As they begin to count, tell them to quit when they have reached 100.

  3. Ask: How much of your head do the 100 strands cover? (a very small area)

  4. Say: Jesus tells us that the Father knows the number of hairs on our heads.

  5. Ask: What does that tell us about God’s relationship to us? What does that mean to you? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  6. Ask a young person to read the Gospel for this Sunday, Matthew 10:26-33.

  7. Say: Jesus tells us to not be afraid to proclaim the kingdom of heaven. What kinds of things today might make us afraid? Why? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  8. Jesus reminds us that acknowledging him is more important than what other people do to us or think about us. He also reminds us that God cares for us. Therefore, we should not fear.

  9. Say: Someone who tells us that we have no reason to fear is saying that we can trust him or her. We express our trust in God whenever we pray the Creed. To proclaim that we believe in God the Father, in Jesus the Son, and in the Holy Spirit is to say that we trust the Holy Trinity and have no fear.

  10. Conclude by praying together either the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed.

Family Connection

It is not only individuals who need reassurance about God’s love and protection. Communities need this reassurance as well, including the community of the family. Children rely on the confidence of their parents for this assurance. Parents can help the entire family’s growth in trust and confidence in God by witnessing ways in which daily family needs are entrusted to God’s care.

As the family gathers, distribute pieces of paper to each person. Tell them to write or draw ways in which they believe that God’s help is needed for each person and for the family as a whole. Each slip of paper can then be collected in a basket.

Invite one member of the family to read aloud today’s Gospel, Matthew 10:26-33. Recall together how well God knows your family and thank God for this wonderful grace. Conclude by praying together for each of the needs identified on the slips of paper. After each need is read, pray together, “God, we trust you because you know us so well.” Conclude by praying the Glory Be to the Father.

This practice might become a regular part of your family’s prayer. Set the basket in a place of prayer and encourage family members to add other needs throughout the week. Perhaps your family can pray for these things together during a family meal.