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, King of the Universe (Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time), Cycle C

Sunday, November 20, 2022

This Sunday's Readings

First Reading
2 Samuel 5:1-3
David is anointed king.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 122:1-2,3-4,4-5
Enter the house of the Lord rejoicing.

Second Reading
Colossians 1:12-20
Hymn to Jesus as the first-born of all creation.

Gospel Reading
Luke 23:35-43
Jesus is crucified under the title King of the Jews.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today as a Church, we conclude our liturgical year and celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. The Gospel we proclaim shows the great mystery of our faith: In the moment of his crucifixion, Jesus is shown to be King and Savior of all.

Luke's Gospel has been loaded with surprises: the poor are rich, sinners find salvation, the Kingdom of God is found in our midst. Here we see the greatest surprise of all. We are confronted with the crucified Jesus, whom faith tells us is King and Savior of all. The irony is that the inscription placed on the cross, perhaps in mockery, contains the profoundest of truth. As the leaders jeer, the thief crucified by his side recognizes Jesus as Messiah and King, and finds salvation.

Jesus is King, but not the kind of king we might have imagined or expected. His kingship was hidden from many of his contemporaries, but those who had the eyes of faith were able to see. As modern disciples of Jesus, we, too, struggle at times to recognize Jesus as King. Today's Gospel invites us to make our own judgment. With eyes of faith, we, too, recognize that Jesus, the crucified One, is indeed King and Savior of all.

Gospel Reading
Luke 23:35-43
Jesus is crucified under the title King of the Jews.

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

Help younger children distinguish between earthly kings and Jesus, Our King and Savior.

Materials Needed

  • a paper crown

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: Today is the Feast of Christ the King. Show children the paper crown. Ask: What do you know about kings and queens? Invite the children to wear the crown as they answer. Say: We call Jesus our King, but he is not like the kings and queens of countries. Jesus is the King of Heaven and the Son of God. He shows us the way to eternal life.
  2. Say: In today’s Gospel, Jesus is dying on the Cross. Only one person recognizes that Jesus is our King. Listen carefully as I read.
  3. Read aloud today’s Gospel, Luke 23:35–43.
  4. Say: The people who do not recognize Jesus as King treat him cruelly. Ask: Who recognizes Jesus as King? (the second criminal) Say: He asks Jesus to remember him. Ask: How does Jesus respond? (He says that the criminal will be with him in paradise.) Say: Jesus offers us eternal life in heaven with him. When we believe in him and know his words are true, we honor him as our King.
  5. Conclude by praying the Our Father.

Gospel Reading
Luke 23:35-43
Jesus is crucified under the title King of the Jews.

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

We do not have kings or royalty in our culture, but Christ the King is different from all traditional notions of royalty. Christ is King because in his death and resurrection, he brought salvation to all humankind. We show that we are his followers when we live our lives accordingly.

Materials Needed

  • Crucifix
  • Crown
  • Bible

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Prepare a prayer table in your meeting space that includes a crucifix, a crown, and a Bible.

  2. Invite the group to gather around the prayer table. Show the group the crucifix. Ask them to look at it carefully and reflect upon what it shows. Ask: How do you feel when you look upon the crucifix?

  3. Now show the group the crown. Ask: What does a crown make you think of? (kings, queens, royalty) What does it mean to be a king? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Tell them that after hearing today's Gospel, they will understand why you have asked them to consider both a crucifix and a crown. Tell them to listen carefully as you read the Gospel.

  4. Prayerfully read today's Gospel, Luke 23:35-43.

  5. Ask for someone from the group to tell in their own words what they heard in today's Gospel. Ask: Why do you think I have asked you to reflect upon a crucifix and a crown? (because Jesus was crucified under a sign that said he was “King of the Jews”) Is Jesus a King in the way we normally understand kings and royalty? Why or why not?

  6. Say: This is the last Sunday of the Church's liturgical year. (You might look together at the liturgical calendar found in their books at the start of the section entitled “The Year in Our Church.”) Say: Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.

  7. Ask: Who in today's Gospel recognized that Jesus was King? (the thief) What did Jesus say would happen to him? (He would be with Jesus in paradise.)

  8. Ask: What will happen to those who believe the sign on Jesus' cross? (Like the thief, they will be with Jesus someday in heaven.)

  9. Conclude by praying together that we always recognize Christ the King and live our lives accordingly. Pray today's Psalm, or pray together the Lord's Prayer.

Gospel Reading
Luke 23:35-43
Jesus is crucified under the title King of the Jews.

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age can be very competitive, and they understand that a trophy symbolizes strength and triumph. This Sunday's Gospel challenges our understanding of victory and strength.

Materials Needed

  • A trophy
  • Paper
  • Drawing/coloring materials

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Display to the young people a trophy and ask them to describe its purpose. (a symbol of victory, a reward)

  2. Ask volunteers to describe trophies or awards that they have won.

  3. Tell the young people to imagine that they have been hired to design trophies. Suggest that they begin by designing one for a sport or activity that they wish they could win.

  4. Distribute paper and drawing/coloring materials and have them draw pictures of their trophies.

  5. When they are done, invite each young person to show his or her drawing and describe the sport or activity he or she chose.

  6. When all are finished, remind them that a trophy is a symbol of victory.

  7. Say: In this Sunday's Gospel, we learn what the Christian symbol of victory is.

  8. Invite volunteers to read aloud Luke 23:35-43.

  9. Then ask them what the Christian symbol of victory is. (the cross of Jesus)

  10. Explain how unusual it is for a symbol of victory to depict someone in defeat and how Jesus' Resurrection transformed a symbol of shame into a means of reconciliation with God.

  11. Tell the young people that the Sign of the Cross is a prayer that proclaims our faith in the cross of Jesus as our symbol of victory. Conclude by inviting the young people to slowly and reverently pray the Sign of the Cross.

Gospel Reading
Luke 23:35-43
Jesus is crucified under the title King of the Jews.

Family Connection

Understanding today's Feast of Christ the King may be particularly challenging. While we may not have a direct experience of kings or royalty, we have some sense of what these mean. We know that royalty have sovereignty over their kingdom. We know that those who are subjects to royalty offer them allegiance and honor. Christ is King in a way that is different from traditional understandings of royalty. Christ's kingship extends to all places, all people, and all times. Christ manifests his kingship through his death on the Cross, in which he offers salvation to all.

Recall with your children stories that you may have read about royalty. Talk with your children about what they have learned from these stories about what it means to be a king. Talk about what they have learned from these stories about what it means to be a subject.

Tell your children that this Sunday is the last Sunday in the Church Year, and on this Sunday, we celebrate a special feast called the Feast of Christ the King. Read today's Gospel, Luke 23:35-43. Reflect together on how the various people in this Gospel respond to Jesus on the Cross. Who in this Gospel recognizes Jesus as King? (the thief) What does Jesus promise the thief as a result? (The thief will be with Jesus in paradise.)

Talk about how your family will recognize and honor Christ the King. Pray together the Lord's Prayer and ask God to help your family to act in ways that show you recognize and honor Christ as King.