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.


Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, July 26, 2020

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
1 Kings 3:5,7-12
Solomon pleases God when he asks for a wise and understanding heart to better govern the people.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 119:57,72,76-77,127-130
The law of the Lord is more precious than silver and gold.

Second Gospel Reading
Romans 8:28-30
God chose us to be conformed to the image of his Son.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 13:44-52 (shorter form: Matthew 13:44-46)
Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of Heaven.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel concludes three weeks of readings from the 13th Chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. Throughout these three weeks we have heard Jesus teaching crowds about the kingdom of heaven, and we have heard Jesus interpret some of his teachings for the disciples. In this week’s Gospel, Jesus offers three more short parables.

The first two parables describe the great value of the kingdom of heaven. In the first parable, Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like a buried treasure that is worth possessing even if it means giving up everything else. In the second parable, Jesus proposes that the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great worth for which one will sell everything else to possess. These parables teach us that we are to place everything we value in the service of the pursuit of the Kingdom of God.

The third parable that Jesus proposes in today’s Gospel is different from the first two, but it is reminiscent of the parable of the sower heard in last week’s Gospel. The kingdom of heaven is compared to fishing with a wide net. After the fish have been collected, the good fish are kept and the bad fish are thrown away; so too, in the final judgment, will the wicked and the righteous be separated.

Today’s Gospel concludes with a curious statement about the scribe who understands the kingdom of heaven. Here a metaphor is offered: this scribe is like the head of a household who “brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” The scribes referred to here are experts of Mosaic law. It is possible that Jesus is here instructing the early Christian community on how to proceed in the interpretation of Jewish law with respect to Jesus’ “new” teaching. Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of heaven does not replace the Jewish tradition; it interprets it in a different light.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 13:44-52 (shorter form: Matthew 13:44-46)
Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of Heaven.


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

Younger children are beginning to develop their values. In his parables about the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus teaches us about values.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: Our values are things that are most important to us in life. For example, I value honesty, so telling the truth is something that is important to me. Ask: If I value honesty, would I tell a lie to get out of trouble? (No.) Say: Sometimes we make choices based on our values. Friendship and sharing are important values to us. Imagine that you get a new toy that you really like. Would you let your friend play with your toy? Why or why not? (Accept all reasonable responses.) Discuss how, if we value friendship and sharing, we might be willing to let our friend play with the toy even if we are worried it might get damaged. We make choices to give up some things that are not as important for the things that are truly important, like friendship and sharing.
  2. Say: Today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us a parable, or story, about the Kingdom of God. He tells us what is truly important.
  3. Read aloud today’s Gospel, in its shorter form, Matthew 13:44–46.
  4. Say: We heard about a man who found buried treasure and a man who found a pearl. Ask: Do you think they valued the treasure and the pearl? (Yes.) What did they do because they valued them? (They gave up everything they had to buy them.) Say: Jesus teaches us that we are called to make the Kingdom of Heaven the most important thing in our lives. We are to set aside or give up unimportant things so that we can accept God’s gift of the Kingdom of Heaven.
  5. Pray: Thank you, Jesus, for teaching us what is most important. Please help us to know and remember what is truly important in life and to live in service of God’s Kingdom. Amen.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 13:44-52 (shorter form: Matthew 13:44-46)
Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of Heaven.


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

Young people are constantly observing the values of others and determining which values they will make their own. As Jesus’ disciples, we place everything we value in the service of the pursuit of the Kingdom of God.

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pencil for each person

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the group to a time of quiet reflection. Say: Today’s Gospel talks about what we value. But before we hear what Jesus teaches about this, let us take some time to think about the things that we value in our lives. Ask each person to make a list of the 10 most important things in their lives. As you circulate around the room, you might suggest that they consider nonmaterial things as well. When each person has finished their list, ask them to rank the items by order of importance.

  2. Ask if there is anything on their lists that they would give up in order to have something else.

  3. Say: These may be difficult questions and the answers might be very personal. What you wrote might tell you a lot about what you value. Jesus told two parables about the kingdom of heaven, which taught us about values. Let’s listen carefully to these parables.

  4. Invite two volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel in its shorter form, Matthew 13:44-46 (each volunteer reads one parable).

  5. Ask: What did the person in the first parable do in order to gain the treasure buried in the field? (He sold everything he had to buy the field so that he could have the treasure.) What did the merchant do so that he could purchase the pearl of great price? (He sold everything he had so that he could buy this pearl.)

  6. Say: I am sure that each of these people valued their possessions highly. However, they used these important, valuable things in order to get something they believed to be of even greater value. God wants us to place everything that we value in the service of the kingdom of heaven.

  7. Conclude in prayer together, asking God for help in learning to value the Kingdom of God above everything else. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 13:44-52 (shorter form: Matthew 13:44-46)
Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of Heaven.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

In the midst of a materialistic world, young people at this age are still learning how to live according to God’s will and often struggle to recognize what is of true value.

Materials Needed

  • Pictures from magazines or the Internet of luxury items—such as mansions, cars, rap stars’ clothing—and pictures of people in need—such as people suffering from famine, natural disasters, or war

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Display the pictures around the room. Draw the young people’s attention to them.

  2. Ask: Is there anything shown in these pictures that you would give anything to have? What is it and why? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Ask: Is there anything in these pictures that you find sad or upsetting? What is it and why? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  4. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, we are challenged to think about what is truly most valuable to us.

  5. Have a volunteer read aloud Matthew 13:44-52.

  6. Ask: In all of these parables, what is Jesus trying to teach us about? (the Kingdom of Heaven)

  7. Say: What is Jesus saying to us about the importance and value of the Kingdom of Heaven? (We are called to make the kingdom the most important thing in our lives.)

  8. Say: Let’s pray for the grace we need to sacrifice our desires for unimportant things so that we can accept the gift of God’s kingdom in our lives.

  9. Conclude this time together by praying this Sunday’s psalm, Psalm 119:57,72,76-77,127-130.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 13:44-52 (shorter form: Matthew 13:44-46)
Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of Heaven.


Family Connection

Like the person who found the buried treasure and the merchant who acquired the pearl of great price, we seek to find the signs of the kingdom of heaven in our lives. In fact, we even work to bring about God’s kingdom in our actions and in our words. We pray that our family values reflect our pursuit of the kingdom of heaven. As Jesus’ disciples, we place everything we value in the service of the pursuit of the Kingdom of God.

As you gather as a family, talk about what your family values. Make a list together of those things that your family considers most important, such as family, friends, faith, trust, and love. Place this list before you as you read today’s Gospel in its shorter form, Matthew 13:44-46. In these parables, Jesus teaches us that it is worth giving up even valuable things in order to possess the kingdom of heaven. Look at the list your family made and talk about how these things are important to the kingdom of heaven. What has your family given up to make these values important in your life? As Jesus’ disciples, we place everything we value in the service of the pursuit of the Kingdom of God. Pray together for God’s kingdom by praying the Lord’s Prayer.