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 C

Sunday, October 23, 2022

This Sunday's Readings

First Reading
Sirach 35:12-14,16-18
God hears the prayer of the poor.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 34:2-3,17-18,19, 23
The Lord hears and answers the cry of the poor.

Second Reading
2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18
Paul perseveres in faith, confident that God will rescue him.

Gospel Reading
Luke 18:9-14
Jesus tells the parable of the proud Pharisee who prayed from his self-importance and the tax collector who prayed humbly.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The second parable that Jesus tells in Luke 18 addresses attitude in prayer. In contrasting the prayer of the Pharisee with the prayer of the tax collector, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray in humility before God. Jesus again surprises his listeners by showing the tax collector as the example of faith, rather than the Pharisee. Remember that Pharisees were members of a sect of Judaism active in Jesus' time. They taught an oral interpretation of the Law of Moses as the basis for Jewish piety. If anyone would be a model for prayer, a Pharisee was a likely candidate. In contrast, Jesus offers the tax collector as a model for prayer. Tax collectors were collaborators with the Roman authorities in a system that allowed the tax collectors to line their own pockets by charging in excess of the defined taxes. Yet, in this parable, Jesus offers the humility of the tax collector as a model for the prayer of a disciple. The parable reminds us that when we pray, we must remember our need for God in our lives. If we are too full of ourselves, there is too little room for God's grace to work in us.

Gospel Reading
Luke 18:9-14
Jesus tells the parable of the proud Pharisee who prayed from his self-importance and the tax collector who prayed humbly.

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

As younger children become more outwardly focused, they may begin to compare themselves to others negatively. Learning that God loves each of us as we are supports children in developing a healthy sense of themselves and their abilities and challenges.

Materials Needed

  • pictures of enlarged snowflakes to show their different shapes

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show children pictures of enlarged snowflakes and ask them to say what they are. Say: Snowflakes form when ice crystals stick together and make different shapes. It’s hard to tell because they’re tiny, but every snowflake is one of a kind. No two snowflakes are alike. Just like snowflakes, no two people are exactly the same. Each of us is created by God who loves us. We each have strengths and challenges.
  2. Ask children to name some things they are good at doing. Say: It’s wonderful to notice the gifts that God has given us. We can thank him for these gifts. It’s also important to know that God loves us no matter what, just as we are, not because we are good at something. We don’t need to compare ourselves to others or tell people often what we’re good at doing.
  3. Say: When we talk about how great we are all the time or think we are better than others, we are being proud, which is a sin. The opposite of being proud is being humble. When we are humble, we know that we need God and that our gifts come from him.
  4. Say: In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about how to pray. One person is proud. The other is humble. Listen carefully as I read.
  5. Read aloud Luke 18:9–14.
  6. Say: The Pharisee brags about himself when he prays. Ask: Is he humble or proud? (He is proud.) Say: The tax collector is humble. Jesus wants us to be humble like the tax collector.
  7. Pray together that God will give you the grace to be humble.

Gospel Reading
Luke 18:9-14
Jesus tells the parable of the proud Pharisee who prayed from his self-importance and the tax collector who prayed humbly.

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

Children of this age are still working out their place in relation to others. The temptation to self-importance is great. By our good example, however, we can teach them that God wants us to leave room in our hearts for him and other people.

Materials Needed

  • Two small balloons

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: Did you ever know someone who bragged all the time?

  2. Say: I knew a girl who told everyone she met that she was the smartest in her class. Inflate one of the balloons a little. You might say she was all puffed up. What other things do people brag about? After each child's answer, blow up the balloon a little more.

  3. What will happen if the bragging continues? (The balloon will burst.) We can be so filled up with ourselves that we're of no use to anyone else.

  4. Say: Look at this other balloon. It could be a beautiful decoration as long as we don't let it get too big. This is what Jesus teaches us in the Gospel this week. Ask for two volunteers to read today's Gospel. The first volunteer will read Luke 18:9-12; the second will read Luke 18:13-14.

  5. Ask: Why did God reject the prayer of the first man, the Pharisee? (That man didn't think he needed God.) Why did the tax collector's prayer please God? (He admitted he had done wrong things and asked God's forgiveness.) When we realize we need God, we let God's beauty into our lives.

  6. Say: Humility is a virtue that is not always popular today. What do you think it means to be humble? (Accept all reasonable answers.) When we are humble, we recognize our dependence and need for God. We acknowledge that God is the source of any talents that we have, and we recognize that any good that we are able to do is because of God's grace working in us. Can you think of some examples of people who are truly humble? (Allow time for response and discussion.)

  7. Conclude in prayer together asking that God will grace each of you with the gift of humility. Pray today's responsorial psalm, or pray together the Act of Contrition.

Gospel Reading
Luke 18:9-14
Jesus tells the parable of the proud Pharisee who prayed from his self-importance and the tax collector who prayed humbly.

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age can be very competitive. Competition, by its very nature, encourages one to draw attention to oneself and can tempt one to excessive pride. This Sunday's Gospel offers a good antidote to pride—humility.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people to name the five senses. (sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch)

  2. Explain that the senses allow us to detect stimuli, helping us identify danger and enjoy the world around us.

  3. Ask whether any of the young people have ever had dental work that required a shot to numb the area needing work.

  4. Point out that the chemical injected by the dentist numbs the nerves, blocking the sense of touch.

  5. Tell the young people that we also have spiritual senses that allow us to perceive the presence of God in ourselves, in others, and in our world.

  6. Explain that if our spiritual senses become numb, we become unable to sense the presence of God in our lives.

  7. Say: Our Catholic tradition points out seven sins that are especially dangerous because they dull our spiritual senses. Because these sins are so harmful, we call them the capital or deadly sins. They are pride, greed, envy, anger, gluttony, lust, and sloth. In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus is warning us about the sin of pride. See if you can identify which character in the story is guilty of this sin.

  8. Invite a volunteer to read aloud Luke 18:9-14.

  9. Ask: Which character in the story is guilty of the sin of pride? (the Pharisee) How does he demonstrate this sin? (He is too full of himself.) What virtue, or good quality, does the tax collector show that is the opposite of pride? (humility)

  10. Explain that humility is the act of seeing ourselves as we are, accepting faults and limitations and not thinking that we are better than others.

  11. Point out that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a perfect example of humility. Say: When Mary found out that she was going to become the mother of Jesus, she did not react with pride. Instead, she humbly surrendered to God's will and praised God for blessing her with this gift.

  12. Conclude by praying aloud a Hail Mary. Guide the young people to pray for an increase in humility.

Gospel Reading
Luke 18:9-14
Jesus tells the parable of the proud Pharisee who prayed from his self-importance and the tax collector who prayed humbly.

Family Connection

In the family, one sometimes observes a level of competition between children for parent attention, for acknowledgement of their abilities. Somehow, children seem to internalize that the attention given to one member of the family diminishes the attention given to another. In this way, children can often sound like the Pharisee in Jesus' parable. Parents who provide continual reminders to their children that they are loved for who they are, not for what they do, help children develop a healthy spirituality.

As a family, talk about what it means to compare oneself to another. Discuss whether it is helpful to compare oneself to another. In what ways might this be positive? (when it motivates one to use one's talents) In what circumstances might this be unhelpful? (when it proves discouraging, when it prevents one from valuing the abilities of another)

As a family, read today's Gospel, Luke 18:9-14. Discuss: What was wrong about the prayer of the Pharisee? How can we emulate the prayer of the tax collector?

Pray together as a family in thanksgiving for the blessing that is each member of your family. Pray that your family will be free from unhealthy competition. Pray in thanksgiving that God's love for us is unconditional.