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 of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, July 29, 2018

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
2 Kings 4:42-44
Elisha the prophet feeds 100 people with 20 barley loaves.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 145:10-11,15-16,17-18
The Lord feeds his people and answers their needs.

Second Reading
Ephesians 4:1-6
The Ephesians are encouraged to live the unity of their Baptism.

Gospel Reading
John 6:1-15
Jesus feeds the crowd of more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Through most of Lectionary Cycle B, our Sunday Gospel readings are taken from the Gospel of Mark. Over the past two Sundays, we heard how Jesus sent his disciples to share in his mission. If we were to continue reading Mark's Gospel, we would next hear his report of how Jesus feeds the crowds in the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Our Lectionary, however, leaves Mark’s Gospel for the next several weeks and instead presents this event from the Gospel of John. In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and the fishes is presented as a sign of his authority and divinity. Jesus interprets the meaning and significance of this miracle as a sharing of his Body and Blood. This chapter is sometimes called the “Bread of Life Discourse.”

In many important ways, John’s Gospel uses the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes to teach about the Eucharist. Like the Last Supper, this miracle is said to have occurred near the time of the Jewish feast of Passover. (In John’s Gospel three Passovers are identified.) Jesus’ language is similar to the language he used at the Last Supper as reported in the Synoptic Gospels. John’s description of this event also anticipates the Messianic banquet of heaven, as the crowd reclines and all hungers are satisfied with abundance. This connection is further amplified by the response of the crowd, who wants to make Jesus a king. John is teaching us that each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are anticipating the eternal banquet of heaven.

Recall that John’s Gospel tells the story of the Last Supper differently than the Synoptic Gospels. Instead of describing the meal and Jesus’ actions with the bread and cup, John describes how Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. We hear this Gospel when we remember the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. This recollection of Jesus’ action at the Last Supper complements the institution narrative of the Synoptic Gospels and Paul’s Letters that we hear repeated at each Mass.

In both stories about the Eucharist—the washing of the disciples’ feet and the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes—the Gospel of John teaches us that the Eucharist is an action. Our word Eucharist is taken from the Greek language and describes an action: “to give thanks.” In the Eucharist we are fed by Jesus himself, and we are sent to serve others.

John’s Gospel notes the detail that the bread blessed and shared with the crowd are barley loaves. This is the food of the poor. It reminds us that God feeds and nourishes us, fulfilling our physical needs as well as our spiritual ones. In the Eucharist, we are sent to serve the poorest among us.

The story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes recalls a particular aspect of the Mass. In this miracle, Jesus transforms a young boy’s offering of five barley loaves and two fish. In the offertory at Mass, we present the fruits of our labors, represented by bread and wine. These gifts, given to us first by God as grain and fruit, are returned to God in our offering of thanksgiving. God in turn transforms our gifts, making this bread and wine the very Body and Blood of Jesus. We also offer ourselves in this exchange, and we, too, are transformed by the Eucharist.


Gospel Reading
John 6:1-15
Jesus feeds the crowd of more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish.


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

Young children can sometimes doubt the importance and value of their attempts to help others. In the story of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, we find an example of how small offerings can be multiplied by Jesus to fill the needs of many.

Materials Needed

  • A simple puzzle, with enough pieces so that each child has at least one or two pieces to place in the puzzle

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Gather the children around a table in your gathering space. Distribute to each child one or two puzzle pieces. Keep one piece out of sight. Invite the children to work together on the puzzle. When all their pieces have been placed in the puzzle, observe that the puzzle isn’t finished because another piece is needed. Say: It’s too bad that we can’t finish the puzzle because we are missing one of the pieces. Tell them that we’ll complete the puzzle together after we listen to today’s Gospel.

  2. Say: In today’s Gospel, Jesus wants to do something wonderful, and he asks his disciples to help him. But the disciples don’t think they can do what Jesus asks. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel.

  3. Read aloud today’s Gospel, John 6:1-15

  4. Ask: When Jesus saw that the crowd was hungry, what did he want to do? (He wanted to give them food.) What did Jesus ask his disciples? (where could they get food to feed the crowd) What did Philip answer? (He said that they didn’t have enough money to buy food to feed all the people.) What did Andrew tell Jesus? (He told Jesus that there was a boy with five barley loaves and two fish, but he said that this wasn’t enough to feed so many people.) Did Jesus think that this was enough? (Yes.) How do we know? (He blessed the food the boy had, and he fed more than five thousand people.)

  5. Say: We really wanted to finish the puzzle, but we couldn’t because we didn’t have enough pieces. Sometimes we are like the disciples, who didn’t think that they had enough food to feed all the people. But Jesus took the food they had and made more than enough for everybody. When we work together and share what we have with others, Jesus will give us what we need and more so that everyone has enough. Bring out the last puzzle piece and complete the puzzle.

  6. Conclude by praying together that Jesus will help us share what we have with others. Pray together the Morning Offering.


Gospel Reading
John 6:1-15
Jesus feeds the crowd of more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish.


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

Many children dream of making a significant contribution to the world. Through the story of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, we can teach them that our most significant contribution will be made by asking Jesus to transform our actions so that they might serve his mission and kingdom.

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Distribute paper and pencils. Ask the children to write a short paragraph about what they want to do when they grow up. Invite volunteers to share what they wrote. Observe that there are many wonderful contributions that we can hope to make to the world.

  2. Say: In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites his disciples to help him do a wonderful thing. But the disciples don’t think they can help Jesus do this. Let’s listen carefully to see how Jesus responds to his disciples.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, John 6:1-15.

  4. Ask: When Jesus saw that the crowd was hungry, what did he want to do? (He wanted to give them food.) What did Jesus ask his disciples? (where could they get food to feed the crowd) What did Philip answer? (He said that they didn’t have enough money to buy food to feed all the people.) What did Andrew tell Jesus? (He told Jesus that there was a boy with five barley loaves and two fish, but he said that this wasn’t enough to feed so many people.) Did Jesus think that this was enough? (Yes.) How do we know? (He blessed the food the boy had, and he fed more than five thousand people.)

  5. Say: There are many wonderful contributions that we want to make to our world. Sometimes we might wonder whether we will be able to do these things and the many wonderful things that God wants us to do. In today’s Gospel, Jesus taught his disciples that he can take their small offerings and make amazing things happen. When we offer God our works and our actions, God will bless them and will help us do amazing things.

  6. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for helping us make a difference in our world. Pray together the Morning Offering.


Gospel Reading
John 6:1-15
Jesus feeds the crowd of more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

As they mature, young people make more and more significant contributions to group efforts. These experiences can help them appreciate the importance of sharing their gifts in the service of the Kingdom of God.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people to recall a time when they made a contribution necessary for the success of an event or activity (for example, bringing needed supplies or equipment, making suggestions at the planning stage, offering help). Allow volunteers to describe their contribution and explain why it was important. Then ask: How did you feel about the contribution you were able to make? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus invites his disciples to make a contribution to the work he wants to do. However, the disciples are reluctant to help, thinking that they do not have what is needed. Let’s listen carefully to see how Jesus responds to his disciples.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, John 6:1–15.

  4. Ask: Seeing the crowd approaching him, what did Jesus want to do? (feed them) What did Philip answer when Jesus asked where they could buy food? (that they didn’t have enough money to buy food for so many people) What did the disciple Andrew tell Jesus? (that there was a boy with five barley loaves and two fish, but this wasn’t enough to feed everyone) Did Jesus think that this was enough? (yes)

  5. Say: Jesus gave thanks to God for the food that was given to him and fed more than 5,000 people. All the people ate and had their fill. Then what did Jesus tell his disciples to do? (collect the leftovers so that nothing would be wasted) Jesus accepted the contribution of food that was given to him, and this small offering became more than enough to feed the crowd.

  6. Say: This miracle teaches us about the great gift we receive in the Eucharist, when the gifts of bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. When the bread and wine are offered at Mass, we offer ourselves as well, giving thanks to God for all that we have been given. God has given us many gifts to share and can do amazing things when we offer these gifts in service to others.

  7. Conclude by praying in gratitude for the gifts God has given each of us to share in service to the Kingdom of God. Pray together the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 145.


Gospel Reading
John 6:1-15
Jesus feeds the crowd of more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish.


Family Connection

Parents may sympathize with the disciples’ protests when Jesus asks Philip where food might be found for the crowd. In the responses of both Philip and Andrew, we hear feelings of inadequacy as they survey their limited resources in the face of such great need. We may sometimes share these feelings about our own material possessions or our emotional and spiritual resources in the face of our family’s needs. This is a Gospel of hope for these times, which are all too frequent in parenting and family life. As Jesus made the five barley loaves and two fish sufficient to more than meet the needs of over five thousand people, Jesus will also work with what we have to provide for our family’s needs. When we offer our efforts to God, we ask him to transform them so that they will be more than adequate to the tasks and needs before us.As you gather as a family, talk together about the things that your family needs, starting with the basics—food, shelter, safety, and so on. Continue by naming other things that a family needs to be happy and healthy—time together, cooperation, patience, and so on. Observe that sometimes we can feel like we don’t have enough of the things that we need or want. Read together today’s Gospel, John 6:1-15. Talk about how Jesus provided plenty of food for the crowd with just five barley loaves and two fish. We have faith that Jesus will also take what we have and make it enough to satisfy and fill all our needs. We ask for this blessing when we offer to God the work of each day in prayer in the Morning Offering. Pray together the Morning Offering, asking God to bless and make fruitful the work of each of our days.