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.


Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, November 19, 2017

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
Proverbs 31:10-13,19-20,30-31
The virtues of a good wife are extolled.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 128:1-2,3,4-5
Blessed are those who walk in God’s ways.

Second Reading
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Paul warns the Thessalonians to stay alert because the day of the Lord cannot be predicted.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus tells the parable of the talents, in which he teaches about the importance of using the gifts that God has given to us in service to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This week’s Gospel speaks of how Jesus’ disciples are to conduct themselves as they await the Kingdom of Heaven. In the preceding passages and in last week’s Gospel, Jesus taught that there is no way to predict the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. His disciples must, therefore, remain vigilant and ready to receive the Son of Man at any time.

Jesus’ parable talks about Christian discipleship using economic metaphors. Before he leaves on a journey, the master entrusts to his servants a different number of talents, giving to each according to their abilities. A talent is a coin of great value. Upon the master’s return, he finds that the first and second servants have doubled their money, and both are rewarded. The third servant, however, has only preserved what was given to him because he was afraid to lose the money. He has risked nothing; he did not even deposit the money in a bank to earn interest. This servant is punished by the master, and his talent is given to the one who brought the greatest return.

Read in light of last week’s parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids, this parable teaches that God’s judgment will be based on the service we render to God and to one another in accordance with the gifts that God has given to us. Our gifts, or talents, are given to us for the service of others. If we fail to use these gifts, God’s judgment on us will be severe. On the other hand, if we make use of these gifts in service to the Kingdom of Heaven, we will be rewarded and entrusted with even more responsibilities.

This Gospel reminds us that Christian spirituality is not passive or inactive. Our life of prayer helps us to discern the gifts that have been given to us by God. This prayer and discernment ought to lead us to use our gifts in the service of God and our neighbor. God’s grace allows us to share in the work of serving the Kingdom of Heaven.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus tells the parable of the talents, in which he teaches about the importance of using the gifts that God has given to us in service to the Kingdom of Heaven.


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

Young children are eager to help others. We can help to foster this desire by helping them to identify ways in which their particular talents can be used to serve others.

Materials Needed

  • A rubber band
  • A cup
  • A play dollar bill
  • A paper bag

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Divide the class into three groups. Have each group choose a leader. Ask each leader to choose an item from the bag in which you have placed a rubber band, a cup, and a play dollar bill. Give the groups one minute to brainstorm all the things that they could do with the item that their leader chose. When time is up, ask each leader to tell the class the uses his or her group thought of. Then collect the items and put them back in the bag. Ask the children to discuss how useful these items would be if we buried the bag in the dirt.

  2. Ask: What are some special things that you can do? Distribute paper and pens or pencils, and allow time for each child to prepare a list or draw pictures of these things. Ask: How good would it be if you never used these abilities that God gave you—if you buried all your abilities by not trying your best? (Allow all reasonable answers.)

  3. Introduce today’s Gospel: God tells us in the Gospel that he expects us to use the gifts he has given us. Today’s Gospel uses the word talents. When Jesus used this word, he was referring to a kind of coin. Today we use this word when talking about a person’s special abilities.

  4. Read aloud today’s Gospel, Matthew 25:14-30.

  5. Ask: Why were the first two servants rewarded by the master? (They used the talents that they were given and returned more money to the master than they were given.) Why was the third servant punished by the master? (He buried the talents that he was given and returned to the master only the money he had received.) Say: Jesus wants us to use the gifts and talents that he has given to us to help other people.

  6. Invite each person to share with the entire group one of the special things that he or she listed in step 2. For each talent named, invite the entire group to try to name at least two ways in which a person might use this talent to help other people.

  7. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for his gifts and asking for his help in using these gifts to serve others. Pray together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus tells the parable of the talents, in which he teaches about the importance of using the gifts that God has given to us in service to the Kingdom of Heaven.


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

Older children are beginning to exhibit proficiency in different skills and abilities. We can help them to identify ways in which these abilities can be used in service to others.

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pencils
  • A basket

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Distribute a sheet of paper and a pencil to each person in the group. Ask: What are some things that you have learned to do well? Allow time for each person to think about this question and to make a list of at least five things.

  2. Say: We all have particular skills and abilities, and each person’s combination of skills and abilities is unique. Our skills and abilities are among God’s many gifts to us.

  3. Ask: What are we to do with the skills and abilities that we have been given? Allow time for students to answer the question and then say: Jesus taught about what to do with our abilities in a parable that we hear in this Sunday’s Gospel. Today’s Gospel uses the word “talents.” When Jesus used this word, he was referring to a kind of coin. Today we use this word to describe a person’s special abilities. Let’s listen carefully to what Jesus teaches.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud Matthew 25:14-30.

  5. Ask: Why were the first two servants rewarded by the master? (They used the talents that they were given and returned more money to the master than they were given.) Why was the third servant punished by the master? (He buried the talents that he was given and returned to the master only the money he had received.) What do you think this means about what Jesus wants us to do with our talents? (Jesus wants us to develop and use the gifts and talents that we have been given.)

  6. Say: One of the things that Jesus would like us to do is to use our gifts and talents to help others. Look back over the list of skills and abilities that you made earlier. Make a list now of all of the ways that you can think of to use your skills and abilities to help others. Try to identify at least 10 things. Allow time for them to complete this activity. If necessary, suggest that they work in pairs until each person has identified 10 ways to help others.

  7. Say: Jesus does not want us to bury our talents. Choose one thing from your list that you will do this week. Write that one thing on a slip of paper. We will place these slips of paper in the basket during our prayer as a sign of our commitment and offering to God.

  8. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for his gifts and asking for his help in using these gifts to serve others. Invite each person to place his or her slip of paper in the basket. When all the papers have been collected, pray the Prayer to the Holy Spirit or the Prayer for Vocations.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus tells the parable of the talents, in which he teaches about the importance of using the gifts that God has given to us in service to the Kingdom of Heaven.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age are aware that in just over a month, they will be celebrating a new year. This is an opportunity to teach them about the Church year, which is coming to an end soon.

Materials Needed

  • Small pieces of paper
  • Pencils or pens
  • A basket or bowl

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Tell the young people that there is just a little over a month left in the current year and that soon they will be celebrating a new year. Say: For New Year’s Day, many people make New Year’s resolutions—promises to themselves that will improve their lives.

  2. Ask the young people to share their New Year’s resolutions.

  3. Say: We are also fast approaching the end of another kind of year—the Church year. Next Sunday is the last Sunday of the Church year. The following Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, marks the beginning of a new Church year. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus gives his followers some advice that might serve as inspiration for resolutions to improve our lives.

  4. Ask a volunteer to read aloud the Gospel, Matthew 25:14-30.

  5. Ask: What do you think Jesus was trying to teach? (how to best use our talents and gifts)

  6. After discussion, ask the young people if they think they might have a gift from God that they could be using, but are not. Tell them that this is a question that they should answer silently in their hearts.

  7. Invite the young people to write on their piece of paper a promise to Jesus about how they will use their talents most fully. When they are ready, invite them to come forward and place their folded paper in the basket or bowl.

  8. Tell them that you will not read what they have written, but you will save the basket to place on the prayer table during Advent. This will remind the young people of their resolutions to God during the season when we await the fullness of God’s promise to us—the birth of Christ.

  9. Conclude by praying this Sunday’s psalm, Psalm 128.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus tells the parable of the talents, in which he teaches about the importance of using the gifts that God has given to us in service to the Kingdom of Heaven.


Family Connection

In today’s Gospel, Jesus talks about the correlation between faithfulness and responsibilities. Family life provides many opportunities to illustrate this connection for children. As children prove themselves trustworthy, they can be trusted to take on greater responsibilities. Jesus teaches us in this parable that when we show ourselves to be trustworthy in small matters, we can be trusted to participate in greater matters of responsibility.

As you gather as a family, take some time to recall how each child in the family has matured and can now be trusted with greater responsibilities.

Say: In today’s Gospel, Jesus talked about how our trustworthiness in small matters shows that we can also be trusted to share in the work of serving the Kingdom of Heaven. Read Matthew 15:14-30. Say: We share in the work of serving the Kingdom of Heaven when we use our talents to help and serve others.

As a family, choose one thing to do this week to serve others. Conclude in prayer together, asking God’s help so that your family may serve others more faithfully. Pray together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.