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.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Cycle A

Sunday, June 11, 2023

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14b-16a
Moses tells the people to remember how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 147:12-15,19-20
Praise God, Jerusalem!

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Though many, we are one body when we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58
Jesus says, “I am the living bread.”

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday we celebrate a second solemnity during this period of Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar. Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This day was once called Corpus Christi, which is Latin for “Body of Christ.” In the revised Lectionary the name for this day is expanded to reflect more completely our Eucharistic theology.

Today’s Gospel is taken from the Gospel according to John. The reading is part of a discourse between Jesus and a crowd of Jews. The discourse comes shortly after the miracle of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes. In John’s Gospel, miracles such as this are identified as “signs” through which people come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. These signs are followed by dialogue, or discourse that interprets and explains the miracle. In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves is said to have occurred near Passover, thus linking it to the Exodus story and God’s saving action toward the Israelites.

Having seen Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes, the crowd pursues him, perhaps seeking more food but also looking for another sign. Jesus tells the crowd that he is the bread of life. He explains that just as God gave the Israelites manna to sustain them in the desert, so now God has sent new manna that will give eternal life. It is in this context that Jesus repeats those words in today’s Gospel and tells them again that he is the living bread that came down from heaven.

Jesus’ words are not well understood by the crowd; they argue that Jesus is not from heaven but born of Mary and Joseph. The crowd also has trouble understanding how Jesus could give them his flesh to eat. Jesus tells them that when they eat his flesh and drink his blood, they will remain forever connected to him. These are difficult words, but they are important because they seek to show us our intimate connection with Jesus.

This is the mystery that is at the heart of our Eucharistic theology. In the elements of bread and wine, Jesus’ Body and Blood are truly present. When we share in the Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus himself comes to dwell within us. This communion with the Lord makes us one body, brings us eternal life, and sends us forth to be Christ’s Body in the world.

Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58
Jesus says, “I am the living bread.”

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

Help younger children understand the significance of the Eucharist.

Materials Needed

  • Host and chalice

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask children to name some of their favorite meals. Ask: Why do we eat food? (to have energy and life, to grow healthy and strong, to nourish our bodies)

  2. Say: In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us about a different kind of food. Listen carefully.

  3. Read about today’s Gospel, John 6:51–58.

  4. Ask: Who is the Bread of Life? (Jesus) Say: Bread gives us life and nourishes our bodies. Jesus is the living bread who saves us from sin and gives us life forever with God in heaven.

  5. Show children the host and chalice. Ask: When do we celebrate a special meal with bread and wine? (at Mass, during the Eucharist, at Holy Communion) Say: The sacraments give us God’s grace. Jesus gives us a special gift in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus. The Eucharist nourishes our souls and strengthens our faith. Jesus is truly with us in this sacrament.

  6. Pray: Jesus, the Bread of Life, you are truly with us in the Eucharist. We love you and believe in you. Thank you for the gift of your loving presence. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.

Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58
Jesus says, “I am the living bread.”

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

As children’s familiarity with the Mass increases, their knowledge and experience of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist deepens. We invite children to this communion with the Lord when we reflect with them on the importance of the gift of the Eucharist in our lives.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the group to identify as many different types of bread as they can. (white bread, wheat bread, bagels, English muffins, pita, tortilla, and so on)

  2. Ask the group: Why do we eat bread? What does bread do for us? (Bread is nourishing. Bread sustains us. Eating bread satisfies our hunger.)

  3. Say: Bread is a staple of our diet today, as it was for the people of Jesus’ time. In order to understand the Gospel that we will hear today, we must know a little bit about the story that precedes it. A crowd of people had gathered to hear Jesus. Jesus had blessed five barley loaves and two fish, and there was enough to feed over five thousand people. Many people came to believe that Jesus came from God because of this miracle. The next day the crowd continued to follow Jesus, and many wanted to see him perform another miracle. Jesus talks with them about the miracle, the sign, he had performed. Many people who heard him were not sure how to receive his words.

  4. Say: Let’s listen to the Gospel for today and see what it tells us about the bread that Jesus gives.

  5. Invite a volunteer to read today’s Gospel, John 6:51-58.

  6. Ask: What kind of bread does Jesus say he will give? (living bread) Where does this living bread come from? (from heaven) What will this bread do for those who eat it? (It will bring them eternal life. Jesus will come to live in those who eat this bread.) What else does Jesus say about this bread? (Jesus says that this living bread is his flesh for the life of the world.) What do you think Jesus is talking about? (Eucharist)

  7. Say: In today’s reading, Jesus is telling us about the special gift he gives us in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the bread and the wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. When we share in the Eucharist, Jesus is present to us, and through our communion we will share eternal life.

  8. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for the gift of the Eucharist. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer or today’s Psalm.

Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58
Jesus says, “I am the living bread.”

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

By the seventh and eighth grade, the young people should understand the Church teaching that Christ is truly present in the bread and wine once it is consecrated. They should also begin to comprehend that they, too, form the Body and Blood of Christ.

Materials Needed

  • Bowl
  • Sheaf of wheat from a craft store
  • Baguette or other crispy bread

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. First check to insure that none of the young people have wheat allergies or celiac disease/gluten sensitivity.

  2. Explain to the students that this Sunday is the second solemnity that we celebrate after the Easter season ends. Say: Last week we celebrated the Trinity, three Persons in one God. This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. We recognize that Christ left us the gift of himself in the Eucharist.

  3. Show the students the wheat stalks. Let them handle them and break off individual grains that are typically ground into flour.

  4. Say: In Jesus’ day wheat was ground between two stones in order to form flour. Take the grains you have in your hands and grind them between your thumb and forefinger until you have flour.

  5. After each student has some flour in his or her hands, pass around the bowl.

  6. Say: As the bowl comes to you, place your flour in it, naming someone you want God to watch over this week.

  7. Explain: In Jesus’ day, bread was made with this type of rough flour along with other ingredients that came from God’s creation: water, spices, yeast, honey. The dough—made from flour and carrying our prayers—rises, is baked, and becomes something else. The materials the baker started with changed into something else.

  8. Next, pass around the loaf of bread. Invite each student to break off a piece of bread.

  9. Say: Before you consume this bread—this new creation—say some words of thanks to God for a gift that you have been given.

  10. After all have eaten, say: In the making of this bread, its ingredients changed form. Our hearts were also transformed by our communal prayer. This is what happens in the Eucharist. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, the “work of our hands” is transformed into the presence of Jesus Christ.

  11. Explain: The Holy Spirit transforms not only the bread and wine but also the assembly. We too are the living Body of Christ.

  12. Have the students read the Gospel, John 6:51-58.

  13. Say: God taught us to pray for our daily bread. How will you think of the phrase daily bread from now on? Offering one another the sign of peace helps us remember that we are made one in Christ.

  14. Pray the Lord’s Prayer and have the students offer one another the sign of peace.

Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58
Jesus says, “I am the living bread.”

Family Connection

Our faith teaches us that when we gather to celebrate Mass, Jesus is present to us. The bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Christ. This is what we mean by the word transubstantiation: Jesus makes himself present to all who receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

If there are children in your family who have already celebrated their First Holy Communion, invite them to share their memories of this special day. If there are family photos taken on this occasion, bring them out and share them together. Adults in the family may also share memories or photos that they have of their First Communion. Then read together today’s Gospel, John 6:51–58. Reflect together on what Jesus means when he calls himself the “living bread.” Recall that every time we receive the Eucharist, Jesus keeps the promise he made in today’s Gospel—those who eat his flesh and drink his blood will remain forever connected to him. Perhaps family members can share what it means for them to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Together thank God for this gift of Holy Communion. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer or today’s Psalm.