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.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, October 29, 2017

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
Exodus 22:20-26
The Lord teaches that compassion ought to be shown to the alien and to the poor.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 18:2-4,47,51
The Lord is our strength.

Second Reading
1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10
Paul tells the Thessalonians that their conversion to the Lord has been an example to all believers.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 22:34-40
The Pharisees continue to test Jesus with a question about the greatest commandment.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This week’s Gospel follows close behind the Gospel read last Sunday. It is the last of three questions put to Jesus by Jewish religious leaders who are trying to trick him into saying something that might get him arrested. This reminds us that the context for today’s reading is the mounting tension between Jesus and the religious leaders in Jerusalem.

The Herodians and the Pharisees asked the first question, which was about taxes. The Sadducees asked the second question, which was about the Resurrection (see Matthew 22:22-33). The third question, considered in today’s Gospel, is asked by a Pharisee who asks Jesus about the greatest of the commandments.

The question requires Jesus to interpret the Law of Moses. The Mosaic Law consists of the Ten Commandments and many additional rules, numbering over six hundred. Adherence to the Mosaic Law, for a devout Jew, is an expression of faithfulness to God’s covenant with Israel. The ranking of the Commandments was regularly debated among the teachers of the Law.

Jesus answers the Pharisees’ question with a two-fold summary. Jesus says that all of the commandments can be summarized in two commandments: love God and love your neighbor. Both of these were central elements of the religious tradition Jesus learned from his Jewish community. Indeed these continue to be central aspects of contemporary Jewish religious understanding. Jesus’ response to his questioners proposed an integral connection between these two aspects of the Jewish Law. Love of God finds its expression in our love for our neighbor.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 22:34-40
The Pharisees continue to test Jesus with a question about the greatest commandment.

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

Young children are dependent upon concrete expressions of love and care as they grow emotionally and spiritually. Jesus’ teaching in today’s Gospel affirms that concrete expressions of love for our neighbor are also expressions of our love of God.

Materials Needed

  • Pictures of people doing good things—parents caring for children, a bride and groom, children sharing, someone paying for items at a checkout counter, people worshiping in church, and so on (Have at least 10 pictures.)
  • Three signs, one with the word God written on it, one with the word Others written on it, and one sign, larger than the other two, with Love written on it

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Place the Love sign on the floor with the pictures placed randomly around it. Discuss the circumstances depicted in each picture and talk about what each one illustrates.

  2. Now place the God sign and the Others sign near the Love sign. Say: All of these pictures can be separated into two groups—loving God and loving others. Invite volunteers to separate the pictures into the two categories, placing each picture above the appropriate sign.

  3. Say: In the Gospel this week, Jesus talked about the importance of doing these two things, loving God and loving others. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Read today’s Gospel, Matthew 22:34-40.

  5. Ask: Which two commandments did Jesus say were the greatest? (Love God and love your neighbor.) And which did he say was first? (Love God.) Why do you think he said that? (If we love God, we will love our neighbor as well. Accept all reasonable answers.)

  6. Conclude in prayer together asking God for help to love him and love our neighbors. Pray the Act of Love or the Lord’s Prayer.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 22:34-40
The Pharisees continue to test Jesus with a question about the greatest commandment.

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

Older children respond well to challenges to show compassion for others in concrete ways. Today’s Gospel teaches that such actions are also expressions of our love of God.

Materials Needed

  • Poster of the Ten Commandments
  • Paper and pencils
  • Basket

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show a poster listing the Ten Commandments. Review the Ten Commandments with the group and talk about what each of the Commandments mean. Ask the group to consider the question: Which of the Commandments is the greatest of all? Allow time to discuss and debate this.

  2. Say: This same question has been debated by teachers in the Jewish tradition. Some teachers of the Law asked Jesus this question directly. We’re pretty familiar with Jesus’ reply to them. Let’s listen to what Jesus says to them in today’s Gospel.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read Matthew 22:34-40.

  4. Ask: What did Jesus answer? (Love God and love your neighbor.) Were our answers like Jesus’ answer? (Accept all reasonable responses.)

  5. Say: Jesus’ answer suggests that our love of God can be measured by our love of neighbor. The two are closely connected. Loving our neighbor makes our love of God visible. Let’s make a commitment to each do one thing this week that shows our love of God and our neighbor. Provide paper and pencils, and allow time for the group to write personal commitments.

  6. Collect the papers in the basket and place this basket in your prayer space. Pray together for God’s help to honor these commitments this week and to always show our love for God by loving our neighbor. Pray the Act of Love.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 22:34-40
The Pharisees continue to test Jesus with a question about the greatest commandment.

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age sometimes question authority and the need for rules and laws. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus challenges the authority figures of his day—the Pharisees—and summarizes the spirit of the Law.

Materials Needed

  • Bibles

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: What laws do you think are the most important laws in our country? (laws that prohibit killing, laws that protect our environment, laws that protect our freedom of speech)

  2. Say: Each of these examples are laws that are essential to maintaining our society. To the Jewish people of Jesus’ time, the Law was central to the expression of their faith.

  3. Distribute Bibles and direct the young people to the Book of Leviticus. Explain that this book of the Bible contains many laws for how to live a life of holiness according to Jewish tradition.

  4. Invite the young people to browse the Book of Leviticus to locate examples of laws. Ask volunteers to share some examples.

  5. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, the Pharisees try to trick Jesus with questions about religious laws.

  6. Have volunteers read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Matthew 22:34-40.

  7. Ask: How does Jesus answer the Pharisees’ question about the Law? (He summarizes all the laws into two commandments: love God and love your neighbor.)

  8. Say: We sometimes think that laws are restricting—that they prevent us from doing certain things. Jesus teaches us that the heart of God’s Law is love. The commandments, in fact, free us from those things that get in the way of loving God and loving our neighbor.

  9. Invite the young people to pray aloud the Our Father, remembering that God sent his Son to teach us this important lesson about the law of love.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 22:34-40
The Pharisees continue to test Jesus with a question about the greatest commandment.

Family Connection

Children learn about love from real, concrete examples witnessed in family life. We can help children to love God and love their neighbors by showing everyday acts of love, generosity, and kindness—our own expressions of our love for God. These acts, small and large, are the expression of what Jesus identified as the two greatest commandments: love God and love neighbor.

Make a poster together as a family. Write the words Love God in the center of the poster and write the words Love Neighbor near each of the four sides of the poster. Read together today’s Gospel, Matthew 22:34-40. Talk about how Jesus taught us that our love for God is revealed in the love that we show to other people. On the poster, use pictures and words to show some of the ways that your family shows their love for other people. Pray together that your family will continue to express your love for God by loving others. Pray the Act of Love.