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 Our Lord Jesus Christ the King (Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time), Cycle A

Sunday, November 22, 2020

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-17
God himself will shepherd the people of Israel.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 23:1-2,2-3,5-6
The Lord is our shepherd.

Second Reading
Corinthians 15:20-26,28
Because Christ has been raised from the dead, all those who have died will also be raised.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus teaches that when the Son of Man comes in glory, he will judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel passage is the conclusion of Jesus’ discourse with his disciples. It is about the end of time, the coming of the Son of Man, and the final judgment. We hear this description of the final judgment at the conclusion of our liturgical year, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King. In the context of Matthew’s Gospel, this passage might also be read as a conclusion of Matthew’s report on Jesus’ life and ministry; the remaining chapters report the events of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes to his disciples the scene of the judgment of the Son of Man. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate them as a shepherd separates sheep and goats upon their return from the pasture. The judgments made by the Son of Man will be based upon the acts of mercy shown to the least ones—the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the ill, and the imprisoned. Indeed, Jesus, who suffered on the Cross, identifies himself with the least ones.

Recall that last week’s parable of the talents taught us that the gifts that we have been given are intended to be used for the service of others, especially the least among us. Our judgment before God will be based not only on how we have used these gifts and talents, but also on how we have extended ourselves in service to these least ones. Indeed, Jesus tells us that whenever we have served these least ones, we have served Christ himself.

When we read today’s Gospel in the context of the chapters that follow in Matthew’s Gospel, we learn the extent to which Jesus identifies with the least ones. In accepting death on the cross, Jesus shows himself to be one of the hungry, the naked, the ill, and the imprisoned. To accept Jesus is to accept him who suffered and died on the Cross as one of the least ones.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus teaches that when the Son of Man comes in glory, he will judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats.


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

Young children are able to distinguish between loving acts and unloving acts. Teach them that to be Jesus’ followers, we are to act in loving and generous ways, especially toward those who suffer and have the least.

Materials Needed

  • Write the words generous and stingy on a large sheet of paper and display it for children to see.

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Point out the two words and ask children if they know what each word means. (Generous means open-hearted and willing to give to and help others; stingy means unwilling to give or spend or help others.) Divide the children into two groups. Say: Let’s play a game. I’ll tell you an action. If the action is generous, give a thumbs-up. If the action is stingy, give a thumbs-down. Make sure you raise your hand so I can see.
  2. Play the game, giving examples of actions such as these:

Sharing a snack with a hungry friend
Giving an old jacket to a thrift store
Ignoring a friend who is sad
Visiting a relative who is sick
Walking past a child who has dropped her books
Not saying hello to a new child at school or church
Dropping trash on the ground


3. If you choose, invite children to name a generous or stingy action and have other children give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.
4. Say: Good job! You know which actions are loving and generous and which are not. But knowing isn’t enough. We need to act in generous ways. In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us that God knows who chooses to serve him by being loving and generous to others. Let’s listen to what Jesus says.
5. Read today’s Gospel, Matthew 25:31–46.
6. Say: When we care for others, especially those who are most in need, Jesus says that we are caring for him. People who follow Jesus and perform loving and generous acts for others will one day live with him forever.
7. Say: Let’s quietly share a sign of peace with one another to show that we are Jesus’ loving and generous disciples.
8. Conclude by praying together the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus teaches that when the Son of Man comes in glory, he will judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats.


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

Older children may be developing the habit of judging others, as evidenced by their identification with a particular group of friends and the formation of cliques. We can help counter this tendency by offering to them Jesus’ criterion for judgment—our acts of mercy toward the least ones among us.

Materials Needed

  • A number of pictures of ordinary people

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the group to consider some of the traits and characteristics they use to describe people. Make of list of these traits. Some possible traits might be good-looking, smart, funny, friendly, kind, and helpful.

  2. Reviewing the list, say: Very often, we use these kinds of characteristics to describe, and even judge other people. Show the pictures to the group. Ask: How would you characterize each of these people? (With the exception of physical characteristics, it is nearly impossible to characterize these people based on the pictures alone.) Ask: What else might you need to know about these people in order to characterize them? (We might need to meet them, get to know them, know how they behave with other people, and so on.)

  3. Say: Jesus knows us very well and will use this knowledge and understanding about us when he returns to judge all peoples. However, in today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us that his judgment of us will be based on one thing. Let’s listen to see how Jesus will judge us.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud Matthew 25:31-46.

  5. Ask: What characteristic will Jesus use to judge us? (He will judge us based on how we treat the least ones among us.) Jesus takes this one step further. He says that whenever we show mercy to one of the least ones among us, we show mercy to Jesus himself.

  6. Ask: What does this mean about whom we might choose to befriend or about how we ought to act toward other people? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  7. Conclude in prayer together asking Jesus for the help needed to serve him through the people around us, especially the least ones among us. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus teaches that when the Son of Man comes in glory, he will judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age are familiar with video games in which the quest is for power and domination. The feast of Christ the King teaches us that Jesus rules with a very different kind of power.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people to think of examples of TV shows that have judges on them. (such as Judge Judy or Judge Mathis)

  2. Point out that in many of these shows, the judges are responsible for making decisions that ensure that people get what they deserve.

  3. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells us a story about a king who passes final judgment on people.

  4. Have a volunteer read aloud the Gospel, Matthew 25:31-46.

  5. Ask: What does the king base his judgments on? (whether or not people fed him when he was hungry, clothed him when he was naked, and so on) How does the king respond when the people ask “When did we see you hungry? Naked?” (“[W]hatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”)

  6. Say: This Sunday, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Jesus tells us the story of the final judgment to show us what kind of a king he is. He is not a king interested in power and glory but in serving the needs of others. Since Jesus is our king and we are his loyal subjects, we strive to imitate him and to live according to his will.

  7. Conclude by praying the Lord’s Prayer, emphasizing that we pray for the coming of the kingdom and that we pray that we may do the will of Christ the King.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus teaches that when the Son of Man comes in glory, he will judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats.


Family Connection

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us that we will be judged on only one thing: the acts of mercy we have shown to the least among us. Jesus identifies with the least ones; thus we serve Jesus whenever we serve one of the least ones. The Church calls the actions that Jesus described in today’s Gospel the Corporal Works of Mercy. These works are to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to bury the dead, to shelter the homeless, to visit the sick and imprisoned, and to give alms to the poor. In these actions we show God’s compassion and mercy to those in need.

As you gather as a family, recall the list of the Corporal Works of Mercy. Talk about some concrete examples of how your family might do these actions in your community and then discuss why it is important that we do these things. Read Matthew 25:31-46. Ask: Why does Jesus say we ought to do these works of mercy? (Because whenever we show mercy to another person, we show mercy to Jesus himself.) Choose one Corporal Work of Mercy that your family will act upon this week. Pray together that your family will see and serve Jesus in the least ones among us. Pray the Lord’s Prayer or an Act of Love.