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 B

Sunday, August 12, 2018

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
1 Kings 19:4-8
The Lord feeds Elijah, strengthening him for his journey to Horeb.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 34:2-3,4-5,6-7,8-9
A prayer of praise to God for his goodness

Second Reading
Ephesians 4:30—5:2
The Ephesians are encouraged to be imitators of Christ.

Gospel Reading
John 6:41-51
Jesus responds to the murmurs of the crowd, who wonders what he means when he says that he came down from heaven.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On this Sunday, we continue to read from the “Bread of Life discourse” found in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. Recall that we have been reading from this chapter for the past two weeks and will continue to read from it for another two. Last week, the crowd asked for a sign that would show that Jesus came from God. Jesus replied by saying that he is the sign and the bread of life sent by God. At this point, our Lectionary omits six verses in which Jesus predicts the unbelief of the crowd and further develops his connection with God the Father. In these verses, Jesus says that he was sent by God to do the Father’s will. Jesus promises that those who look upon the Son with faith will find eternal life. Some of these themes are repeated in today’s Gospel reading.

Today’s Gospel begins with a report that the Jews complained about Jesus’ claims regarding his identity. They knew his family, and they knew he was the son of Joseph. They could not comprehend what Jesus meant when he said that he came down from heaven. Jesus responds to the complaints by saying that only those who are chosen by God will recognize him as the one that God sent. This is a recurring theme in John’s Gospel, that God has chosen those who will have faith in Jesus.

In the verses that follow, Jesus talks more about his unity with the Father. He is the one who has seen the Father and, therefore, knows the Father. Those who listen to God will recognize that Jesus is the one sent from God. Those who believe will have eternal life. Jesus concludes with the central element of our eucharistic theology. He promises that the bread of life will bring eternal life to those who partake of it, and he tells us that the bread of life will be his own flesh, given for the life of the world.

In today’s reading, we hear Jesus say again, as he did in last week's Gospel, that he is the bread of life. We also hear Jesus add that he is the living bread. Both of these statements help us understand better the gift that Jesus gives us in the Eucharist. We celebrate this gift of Jesus each time we gather for Mass. We believe that receiving Jesus in the Eucharist will lead us to eternal life.


Gospel Reading
John 6:41-51
Jesus responds to the murmurs of the crowd, who wonders what he means when he says that he came down from heaven.


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

Young children are literal thinkers, but they are eager to learn the language of our faith. Because of this, we can begin to introduce some of the more difficult concepts of our faith, including our belief that Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist.

Materials Needed

  • A slide projector and a slide
  • Screen or blank wall on which to project the image

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Set up the slide projector. Project an image out of focus. Observe with the children how difficult it is to make out the image on the screen. Then show the children how you can make the image come into focus by adjusting the lens. (If you don’t have access to a slide projector, this activity can also be done with a camera with an adjustable lens or with a pair of binoculars.)

  2. Say: Jesus’ words to us in Scripture are like the lens in this projector. They help us understand the things that God teaches us. In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ words help us understand who Jesus is and what he has done for us.

  3. Read aloud the following verses from today’s Gospel, John 6:44-51.

  4. Say: Jesus tells us that when we listen to God, we will learn that Jesus comes from God, and he tells us that when we believe that Jesus comes from God, we begin to see things more clearly. When we believe that Jesus is from God, we can also believe that Jesus gave us his Body and Blood in the Eucharist, which we celebrate at Mass. When we believe this and receive Jesus in the Eucharist, Jesus promises that we will live with God forever in heaven.

  5. Conclude in prayer together that we will always believe that Jesus is from God and therefore see things clearly. Pray together the Act of Faith, Act of Hope, and Act of Love.


Gospel Reading
John 6:41-51
Jesus responds to the murmurs of the crowd, who wonders what he means when he says that he came down from heaven.


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

Older children are beginning to develop the capacity to think and reason more abstractly. They can be invited to explore some of the more difficult concepts of our faith, such as the Eucharist.

Materials Needed

  • One connect-the-dots puzzle for each child
  • Pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Distribute a connect-the-dots puzzle to each child. Before the children begin to work on their puzzles, ask them to try to guess what the picture will be when the puzzle is finished. Then instruct the group to complete the puzzles.

  2. Ask: Was the completed picture what you predicted? Say: It was difficult to imagine the completed picture until after you had connected the dots. But now that the puzzle is complete, we can’t help but see the picture. In a sense, this is what Jesus does for us in today’s Gospel. He “connects the dots” so that we can more fully understand the gift that he gives us in the Eucharist. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, John 6:41-51.

  4. Ask: Why doesn’t the crowd believe that Jesus came down from heaven? (They know that his father is Joseph; they know his family.) How does Jesus reply to this? (He says that those who listen to God will know that Jesus came from God.)

  5. Say: Jesus makes several connections in today’s Gospel that help us understand better the gift he gives us in the Eucharist. Let’s work together to identify what these are. The first connection is between God and Jesus. What does Jesus teach us about the connection between him and God the Father? (The Father sent Jesus; only Jesus has seen the Father.) The second connection teaches us about the bread that Jesus calls the bread of life. Who sends the bread of life? (God) Who is the bread of life? (Jesus) The third connection is the gift that is given to those who eat the bread of life. What gift is given to those who eat this bread? (eternal life) Finally, what does Jesus tell us about the bread that he will give? (This bread is his flesh given for the life of the world.)

  6. Say: When we offer our gifts at the Mass, we see bread and wine. But Jesus helps us see beyond these appearances. Our faith in Jesus leads us to believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus, given to us so that we may have eternal life.

  7. Conclude in prayer together that we will grow in our understanding and faith in the Eucharist. Pray together the Act of Faith.


Gospel Reading
John 6:41-51
Jesus responds to the murmurs of the crowd, who wonders what he means when he says that he came down from heaven.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people often have a great curiosity about matters of faith. We can help them understand that there are many things that we may never know, but that God has shared with us everything that we need to know to have faith in Jesus.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: To know a few facts about a person does not necessarily mean that we know that person well. If someone knew you only as a member of your family, what might they know about you? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What kinds of things wouldn’t they know? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Would knowing that you go to a particular school add any additional information? (Yes, some.) Would this be enough to know you well? (Probably not.) Why not? (They haven’t taken the time to get to know you.)

  2. Say: In today’s Gospel, some of the people in the crowd are upset because Jesus told them that he was the bread of life that came down from heaven. They don’t believe this because they seem to think they know Jesus. Let’s listen to this Gospel to learn what they think they know about Jesus.

  3. Say: In today’s Gospel, some of the people in the crowd are upset because Jesus told them that he was the bread of life that came down from heaven. They don’t believe this because they seem to think they know Jesus. Let’s listen to this Gospel to learn what they think they know about Jesus.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, John 6:41-51.

  5. Ask: What information does the crowd know about Jesus? (They know that his father is Joseph; they know his family.) Is this enough to know Jesus well? (No.) What does Jesus say a person must do to know him well? (Jesus says that those who listen to God will know that Jesus came from God.)

  6. Say: This is important for us to understand because there are many details about Jesus' life that we don't know. But knowing these details would not tell us what we need to know about Jesus. We learn all we need to know about Jesus from God’s Word to us, the Scripture. Scripture teaches us to have faith that Jesus is God's Son who brings us salvation. We also have the gift that Jesus gave us in the Eucharist. We grow closer to Jesus when we celebrate the Eucharist.

  7. Conclude in prayer together that we will grow in our understanding and faith in Jesus through our celebration of the Eucharist. Pray together the Act of Faith.


Gospel Reading
John 6:41-51
Jesus responds to the murmurs of the crowd, who wonders what he means when he says that he came down from heaven.


Family Connection

Today’s Gospel focuses our attention on our faith in Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist. Jesus is the bread of life. He gives us his Body and Blood as bread so that we may have eternal life. When we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, our lives begin to reflect the reality that our communion with Jesus prepares in us. Our Eucharist leads us to live as people of the promise, confident that we will one day share the fullness of life with God.

As you gather as a family, talk about our hope that one day we will share eternal life with God in heaven. This hope can transform the way we live our daily lives, calling us to be people of hope and expectation. In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises us this gift of eternal life in the Eucharist. Read together today’s Gospel, John 6:41-51. Observe that Jesus taught us that those who listen to God know that Jesus has been sent by God for the life of the world. Jesus fulfills this promise to us through his passion, death, and Resurrection. He gives us the gift of himself in the Eucharist, which is his Body and Blood, given so that we may have eternal life. Conclude in prayer together asking God to increase our faith in Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist. Pray together the Act of Faith.