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 B

Sunday, June 3, 2018

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
Exodus 24:3-8
The covenant is established between God and the people.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 116:12-13,15-16,17-18
God brings salvation.

Second Reading
Hebrews 9:11-15
Christ is the mediator of the new covenant.

Gospel Reading
Mark 14:12-16,22-26
Jesus shares his Last Supper with his disciples.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today, the second Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate a second solemnity, which marks our return to Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar. Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. At one time, this day was called Corpus Christi, the Latin words for “the Body of Christ.” In the most recent revision of our liturgical rites, the name for this day is expanded to be a more complete reflection of our Eucharistic theology.

In our reading for today, we read the account of the Last Supper found in the Gospel of Mark. It begins with the instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples to prepare their Passover celebration. It then goes on to give an account of the Last Supper. On this Sunday, however, our Lectionary reading omits the verses between these two passages; in those omitted verses we hear Jesus predict his betrayal by one of his disciples.

The Gospel of Mark describes Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples as a celebration of the Jewish feast of Passover. The Jewish celebration of Passover is a memorial to and a ritual participation in the defining moment of Israel’s history. It celebrates God’s deliverance of his people from slavery in Egypt. The Passover meal includes many ritually important elements, such as unleavened bread, lamb, and bitter herbs. Each food item recalls an aspect of the Exodus event. The instructions for the preparation of this meal are carefully prescribed in the Law of Moses. It is a central obligation of the Jewish faith tradition to celebrate this meal and to give thanks to God for his deliverance and protection.

In the description of the Passover meal found in today’s Gospel, however, Mark omits many elements of the Jewish Passover meal. Instead he describes only those elements he believes to be most essential to the Christian Eucharist: Jesus took bread, blessed the bread, broke the bread, and shared it with his disciples. Similar words and actions follow as Jesus shares the chalice with his disciples. This bread now shared is Jesus’ own body. Those who drink from the chalice are invited to share in a new covenant which will be sealed by Jesus’ own blood. Mark’s Eucharistic theology looks forward to the Kingdom of God that Jesus inaugurates.

The Gospel for today reminds us that the Eucharist is a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We believe that Jesus is truly present to us in the elements of bread and wine. Each time we celebrate this sacrament, we prepare for the Kingdom of God. This celebration, as the Second Vatican Council taught us, is the source and summit of the Christian life.


Gospel Reading
Mark 14:12-16,22-26
Jesus shares his Last Supper with his disciples.


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

Young children are quite familiar with the idea of promises. We can help them understand the promise God made to save us from our sins by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Materials Needed

  • a contract (home repairs, service agreement, loan agreement)
  • a candle
  • matches
  • a ring or other metal object that won’t be affected by hot wax

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show the children a contract and explain to them that this is a promise to do something. Say: A contract is not a valid agreement unless it has been signed. Usually people sign their names or their initials. Years ago, contracts were sealed by pressing a metal initial ring or other special symbol into hot wax. Demonstrate how this is done using the candle wax and the metal object. Say: There must be some official way for a contract to be marked, or no one will believe that it is a true promise.

  2. Say: This week’s Gospel tells of the time when God made an agreement with all of us.

  3. Read this portion of today’s Gospel, Mark 14:22-26.

  4. Say: God promised that through Jesus’ death on the cross, we would be forgiven for our sins. The agreement was sealed with the Body and Blood of Jesus. At the Last Supper, when Jesus took bread and wine and blessed them, he promised to give his own body and blood as proof of God’s great love for us. We remember and celebrate this promise each time we celebrate Mass.

  5. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for his gift of the Eucharist. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Mark 14:12-16,22-26
Jesus shares his Last Supper with his disciples.


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

Older children are able to share in the responsibilities for meal planning and preparation. We can help them see that they can also prepare for their celebration of the Eucharist.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: Most of us eat three meals a day and we don’t give it much thought. But meals don’t just happen. They require planning and preparation. Ask: What are some things that must be done to prepare daily meals? (planning menus, shopping, cooking, setting the table, cleaning up afterward, and so on) What additional things might be required if we are planning a special holiday meal? (invitations, decorations, seating arrangements, and so on)

  2. Say: In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus give instructions to his disciples for preparing a special meal for the Jewish celebration of Passover. We also hear some details about the meal that Jesus shares with his disciples; this meal is called the Last Supper. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, Mark 14:12-16,22-26.

  4. Ask: What do we do today to remember this Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples? (We celebrate the Eucharist.) What preparations are made so that we can celebrate the Eucharist each week? (The worship space is prepared; the priest prepares the homily; lectors, altar servers, and Eucharistic ministers are assigned and prepared.)

  5. Say: Even if we don’t have an official role at the Sunday Eucharist, we should prepare ourselves for this celebration. Ask: What are some things that we might do to prepare ourselves to celebrate the Eucharist? (Read and reflect upon the Sunday readings, especially the Gospel; keep the Eucharistic fast; make ourselves present and attentive at the Sunday Eucharist.)

  6. Conclude in prayer together, inviting each child to make a commitment to do one thing this week to better prepare for his or her celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday. Pray together for God’s help to keep this commitment by praying the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Mark 14:12-16,22-26
Jesus shares his Last Supper with his disciples.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Through careful planning and extra preparations, we demonstrate the importance of holiday meals. Preparing well for Sunday Mass demonstrates the importance of the Eucharist in our lives.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the young people to recall a recent holiday meal that they shared with their family. Observe that planning meals for special occasions is different from planning for everyday meals. Have the young people work in groups of three to identify extra preparations that might be made for a holiday meal. Ask a volunteer from each group to report on the group’s conclusions.

  2. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear the disciples ask Jesus about preparing for their celebration of the Passover meal. Ask the young people what they know about the Passover celebration and its importance to the Jewish people. (Offer additional information as needed from The Passover Celebration.)

  3. Say: This Sunday’s Gospel also describes what Jesus did at this meal, the Last Supper he shared with his disciples. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel reading.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Mark 14:12–16, 22–26.

  5. Ask: What do we do to remember the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples? (We celebrate the Eucharist.) What preparations are made so that we can celebrate the Eucharist each week? (The worship space is prepared; the priest prepares the homily; lectors, altar servers, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are assigned and prepared.)

  6. Observe that these preparations for Sunday Mass demonstrate the importance of the Eucharist. Ask: Why is the Eucharist important to us? (Accept all reasonable answers. For example, in the Eucharist, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion.)

  7. Say: Each of us can also prepare ourselves for Sunday Mass so that we can participate fully when we celebrate the Eucharist. Discuss ways to prepare for Sunday Mass, including reading and reflecting on the Scripture passages, especially the Gospel; keeping the Eucharistic fast; arriving on time and being attentive during Mass.

  8. Conclude by inviting each person to make a commitment to do one thing this week to better prepare for the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday. Pray together the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 116.


Gospel Reading
Mark 14:12-16,22-26
Jesus shares his Last Supper with his disciples.


Family Connection

In the beginning of today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples to make preparations for the Passover meal. Like most meals, the Passover meal required planning and preparation. Our celebration of the Sunday Eucharist also requires planning and preparation. Certainly the ministers at the Eucharist prepare for their roles: the person presiding prays and prepares the homily; the prayers of petition are written; the music ministers prayerfully select music and practice it before Mass; Eucharistic ministers, lectors and altar servers prepare carefully for their roles. As the worshiping assembly, we can also prepare for the Mass through our prayer during the week, by reading the Scripture before Mass, and by making ourselves present to the Eucharistic celebration.

As you gather as a family, talk about some of the things that are required to prepare for your family meals. Plan together a special Sunday meal by choosing the menu, preparing the shopping list, and assigning duties for cooking, setting the table, preparing decorations, leading the prayers, and cleaning. Read together today’s Gospel, Mark 14:12-16,22-26. Notice how Jesus instructed his disciples to prepare for their Passover meal. All meals require some kind of planning and preparation; so, too, our Sunday Eucharist requires planning. What might we do as a family to better prepare for our celebration of the Eucharist? Choose one or more ideas to begin to implement together as a family. Pray together that God will help your family make your celebration of the Eucharist the highlight of your week. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.