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.


Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, September 3, 2017

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
Jeremiah 20:7-9
Jeremiah laments but cannot fail to speak in God’s name.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 63:2-6,8-9
Our souls yearn for God.

Second Reading
Romans 12:1-2
Paul encourages the Romans to stay faithful to God.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:21-27
Jesus speaks of his Passion and rebukes Peter for his objection.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel continues the story that began in last week’s Gospel. Simon Peter was called the “rock” upon which Jesus would build his Church, and yet Peter continues to show the limitations of his understanding of Jesus’ identity. Now that the disciples have acknowledged that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus confides in them the outcome of his ministry: he must suffer and die in Jerusalem to be raised on the third day. Peter rejects this prediction, and Jesus rebukes him severely, calling him “Satan.” In opposing this aspect of Jesus’ mission, Peter shows that he is no longer speaking based on the revelation from God but as a human being. Jesus then teaches all of the disciples about the difficult path of discipleship: to be Christ’s disciple is to follow in his way of the cross.

Peter could not yet understand what it meant to call Jesus the Messiah. It is unlikely that the other disciples understood any better. Messianic expectations were a common aspect of first-century Judaism. Under Roman occupation, many in Israel hoped and prayed that God would send a Messiah to free the Jews from Roman oppression. The common view was that the Messiah would be a political figure, a king that would free Israel from Roman rule. This is perhaps what Peter envisioned when he was led to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. In this passage, however, Jesus is beginning to teach his disciples that he would be the Messiah in a different way.

Jesus would be more like the suffering servant described by the prophet Isaiah than the political liberator. Those who would be Jesus' disciples would be called to a similar life of service. Perhaps this is what Peter feared most in Jesus’ prediction of his Passion. He whom Jesus had called “rock” would also be called upon to offer himself in sacrifice and service to others. Christian leaders today are still called to sacrifice and serve others as Jesus did.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:21-27
Jesus speaks of his Passion and rebukes Peter for his objection.


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

Like Jesus’ disciples, we sometimes find Jesus’ teaching difficult to hear. We can alert children to this tendency and help them to remain open to the challenge of the Gospel and the life of discipleship.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Tell the group: Think about a time when you were told something that you didn’t want to hear. For example, what do you do when you are watching television and a grown up tells you that it is time to go clean your bedroom? Or perhaps you are playing outside with your friends and your parent calls you for dinner. How do you respond? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus telling his disciples something that they may not have wanted to hear. Let’s listen to find out what this is and how one of his disciples responds.

  3. Read aloud today’s Gospel, Matthew 16:21-27.

  4. Ask: What was Jesus telling his disciples about in the beginning of this Gospel? (He was going to suffer and die.) How does Peter respond to Jesus? (Peter objects to what Jesus has said.) What does Jesus say to Peter? (He tells Peter that he doesn’t understand; he is not thinking like God.) What does Jesus tell his disciples next? (Jesus says that anyone who wants to be Jesus’ disciple must follow Jesus’ example.)

  5. Say: Jesus set an example for all of his followers. He loved people so much that he was willing to suffer and die for us.

  6. Ask: Who are some people in our world today who serve others? (Accept all reasonable answers.) These people can also be examples for us. Jesus also wants us to offer our lives in service to others.

  7. Conclude in prayer together for help in being good followers of Jesus. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:21-27
Jesus speaks of his Passion and rebukes Peter for his objection.


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

Many young people equate leadership with power. Jesus teaches us that Christian leadership is about service, not power.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: What do you look for in a leader? What do we expect from people who are leaders? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: In today’s Gospel we again hear about a conversation between Jesus and Peter. Recall from last week’s Gospel that Jesus called Peter a rock and said that the Church would be built on this foundation. How do you think Peter felt when he heard this from Jesus? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Let’s listen to what happens in today’s Gospel.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read Matthew 16:21-27.

  4. Ask: What happened at the end of today’s Gospel? (Peter could not accept Jesus' words about his suffering and death; Peter did not understand what kind of messiah Jesus said he was going to be.) How do you think Peter felt after Jesus rebuked him? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  5. Say: Jesus was now telling his disciples what kind of messiah he was going to be. Peter probably hoped that Jesus would be a victorious king. Jesus, however, said that he was going to be a suffering servant of humanity. He told his disciples that they would need to be like him by offering their lives in service to others.

  6. Say: Jesus also wants us to follow his example and offer our lives in service to others. Who are some people who offer that example to us today? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  7. Conclude by praying for Jesus’ help in living a life in the service of others. Pray together a prayer for vocations.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:21-27
Jesus speaks of his Passion and rebukes Peter for his objection.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age are often challenged to “think!” This Sunday’s Gospel challenges them to think, not as humans do, but as God does.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask everybody what it is that they are thinking about at this very moment. Invite volunteers to share with the group.

  2. Say: In the story of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy meets three characters who join her on her journey to the Emerald City to meet the great and powerful Oz. Each of these characters is lacking something. What are they missing? (The scarecrow is missing a brain; the tin man lacks a heart; and the lion has no courage.)

  3. Say: Let’s think about the scarecrow for a moment. Without a brain, what is it that he feels he is unable to do? (think) We definitely need a brain to think! In fact, when we do something thoughtless, our parents may ask, “Where are your brains?”

  4. Continue: In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus challenges Peter to think, but to do so in a very unusual way.

  5. Have a volunteer read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Matthew 16:21-27.

  6. Discuss: In this Gospel, how does Jesus want Peter to think? (not as humans think, but as God thinks)

  7. Ask: How is God’s thinking different from Peter’s thinking in this story? (Peter thinks that Jesus should not go to Jerusalem and face the danger of death; God thinks that Jesus is called to go to Jerusalem to give his life for others.)

  8. Say: We are born to think of our own needs. God calls us to think not about ourselves but about others. This is a different way of thinking. Like the scarecrow, we need a brain. Although we have our own brain, we need to put on the mind—the brain—of God to think as God thinks.

  9. Conclude by praying the Lord’s Prayer, telling the young people that this prayer helps us to put on the mind of Christ.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:21-27
Jesus speaks of his Passion and rebukes Peter for his objection.


Family Connection

Peter was expecting a Messiah that would carry out a different plan than the one Jesus had explained. Jesus was indeed the Messiah, but his life and death would show a different understanding of what it means to be the Messiah. We too have expectations of God and our own ideas about what we think God ought to be doing in our world. Like Peter we may risk limiting our image of God by thinking only in human ways. God’s plan is always more than we can ever imagine.

As you gather as a family, talk about what we expect God to be doing in our world and in our family life. Then read today’s Gospel, Matthew 16:21-27. Why do you think Peter was so upset by what Jesus was saying? Notice how Jesus reprimands Peter. Do we sometimes forget to let God be God for us? That is, do we sometimes get discouraged because God doesn’t act in our world in the ways that we expect? Pray together that your family will remember that God is always working for the world’s salvation in ways that are beyond our human imaginings. Conclude by praying together today’s Psalm, Psalm 63.