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.


Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, August 9, 2020

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
1 Kings 19:9a,11-13a
The Lord appears to Elijah in a whisper.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 85:9-14
The Lord is the source of salvation.

Second Reading
Romans 9:1-5
Paul speaks of the blessings that have come to the Israelites.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus walks on water, and the disciples acknowledge him as the Son of God.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel directly follows last week’s account of Jesus feeding a crowd of more than 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. For the sake of the crowds, Jesus had postponed his time of solitude. Now, at last, Jesus finds some time for quiet and prayer. He sends his disciples ahead of him by boat, dismisses the crowds, and then withdraws to the mountain to pray.

The disciples do not fare well. They struggle to weather the wind and waves, making little progress in their journey. We are reminded of a previous story in Chapter 8 of Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus calms the seas. This time, however, Jesus does not calm the seas, and the disciples do not express fear until they see Jesus walking toward them on the water. In this story it is not the storm that is feared but the sight of Jesus before them, whom they mistake for a ghost.

Clues like these suggest that this story is about the disciples’ growing understanding of the identity of Jesus. In continuity with last week’s Gospel about the feeding of the multitude, today’s Gospel is also about what the disciples’ faith in Jesus will enable them to do. In last week’s Gospel, when the disciples see the crowds, they ask Jesus to send the crowds away. Jesus turns the situation around, telling the disciples to feed the crowd with the provisions that they have. Both of these Gospels tell us much about ministry.

Jesus calls to the disciples and calms their fears. He is not a ghost. The impulsive Peter seeks proof that the person is indeed Jesus. He asks Jesus to call him out onto the water, and Jesus grants this request. Peter’s fear and doubt overtake him, however, once he is walking on the water. Jesus reaches out to Peter and saves him. When Jesus and Peter enter the boat, Matthew reports that the wind ceases, and the disciples confess that Jesus is the Son of God.

Faith in Jesus will enable the disciples to do the work that Jesus has done. Peter walks on water. The five loaves and two fish feed a multitude of people. The disciples can and will participate in the work of the kingdom of heaven. When Peter fears and doubts the person of Jesus, however, he falters. Peter’s example teaches us that true Christian ministry emerges from the faith that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s only Son.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus walks on water, and the disciples acknowledge him as the Son of God.


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

Younger children can grow in their faith when they know that Jesus never gives up on us, even when we are doubtful and afraid.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite children to tell you what they think it means to have faith. (Accept reasonable responses.) Explain that faith is the trust that we place in God and in his teachings. Say: In today’s Gospel, we learn about Peter’s faith in Jesus. Peter sees Jesus walking on water. He wants to be like Jesus. Listen to what happens when Peter momentarily gets afraid and doubts Jesus.
  2. Read aloud today’s Gospel, Matthew 14:22–33.
  3. Ask: Whom did the disciples see on the water? (Jesus) What did Jesus say to the disciples? (“It is I. Do not be afraid.”) Say: When Jesus called Peter, Peter walked on water for a while. Ask: Then what happened? (He got scared and began to sink.) Say: Having doubt means not fully trusting in God. When Peter becomes afraid and doubts Jesus, he begins to sink. Jesus reaches out and saves Peter. The disciples see that Jesus is truly the Son of God.
  4. Say: Jesus teaches us that we can trust him. Even when we feel doubtful or afraid, Jesus is with us.
  5. Close by praying together the Lord’s Prayer.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus walks on water, and the disciples acknowledge him as the Son of God.


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

Young people are still growing in their understanding of Jesus and where faith in Jesus will lead them. Through Peter’s encounter with Jesus, we can teach them about how Christian ministry must always be rooted in faith in Jesus.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the group to identify some of the main aspects of Jesus’ ministry. Make a list together. (healing the sick, feeding the hungry, etc.)

  2. Ask: Are there things on this list that you wish you could do? What things? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Say: Last week we heard how Jesus used the disciples’ five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands of people. In today’s Gospel, Jesus performs another extraordinary act; he walks on water. Peter then asks Jesus if he too can walk on water. Let’s listen carefully to this story and see what we can learn from this encounter between Peter and Jesus.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, Matthew 14:22-33.

  5. Ask: What did Peter want to do? (He wanted to walk on water as Jesus did.) What was Jesus’ response? (He said yes.) What happened? (Peter was able to walk on the water, but then he started to sink because he grew fearful.) What did Jesus do when this happened? (He saved him.) What did the disciples learn about Jesus through this? (They came to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.)

  6. Say: Jesus invited his disciples to participate in the work that he was doing. He invites us to do the same. He wants us to do extraordinary things for others. In order for us to be able to do this, we must have faith and trust that Jesus will do his work through us. Even if we become fearful and doubtful like Peter, Jesus will still save us.

  7. Conclude in prayer together that God will continue to work through people to bring about the kingdom of heaven. Pray together the Morning Offering or the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus walks on water, and the disciples acknowledge him as the Son of God.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

It is natural for students at this age to experience doubts regarding the presence and power of God when they are faced with difficult challenges. This Sunday’s Gospel provides an opportunity to discuss doubt and faith.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: Have you ever heard the phrase “too good to be true”? What do you think it means? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: Many of us have purchased a product based on advertising only to discover that the ad’s promises were “too good to be true.” Invite volunteers to share experiences when this has happened to them.

  3. Say: God made a promise long ago to his Chosen People that he would always be with them and would always love them. This promise seems too good to be true. Yet, God fulfilled that promise by sending his only Son, Jesus. Jesus, in turn, sent the Holy Spirit to be with us at all times. Even so, we sometimes doubt God’s promise. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear that Peter experienced doubt too.

  4. Have a volunteer read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Matthew 14:22-23.

  5. Ask: At what point during the Gospel might Peter have thought “This is too good to be true.”? (when he started to sink)

  6. Ask: What did Jesus do when Peter started to sink? (He reached out to take Peter’s hand.) What does this tell you about Jesus? (that Jesus is there to help us when we are troubled)

  7. Say: In the coming week, pay attention to the times when you feel like you are sinking—when problems begin to overwhelm you. Remember that Jesus is there with you, reaching out his hand to lift you up. This time it isn’t too good to be true. Jesus keeps his promise.

  8. Conclude by singing, playing a recording, or praying aloud the lyrics of the song Be With Me (Marty Haugen, GIA Publications).


Gospel Reading
Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus walks on water, and the disciples acknowledge him as the Son of God.


Family Connection

The mission of the Church is to continue the work of Jesus. The family, the domestic church, participates in this mission too.

Talk about how your family participates in the mission of the Church. Discuss ways in which you seek to reach out to your neighbors and people in need through acts of kindness, mercy, and justice. Then read together today’s Gospel, Matthew 14:22-33. Talk about how Peter wanted to be like Jesus, to walk on water like Jesus did. Note that Peter was successful for a time, but then he doubted Jesus, and he began to sink into the water. Talk about how your family’s acts of mercy and justice are rooted in your faith in Jesus. Pray together that Jesus will continue to work through your family to prepare the kingdom of heaven. Pray together the Morning Offering or the Lord’s Prayer.