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.


Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, February 16, 2020

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
Sirach 15:15–20
The eyes of God see all he has made.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 119:1–2,4–5, 17–18,33–34
Happy are those who walk in the way of the Lord.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 2:6–10
God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:17–37
I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill them.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Matthew continues the Sermon on the Mount with a three part instruction by Jesus on the Way of Life in the kingdom of heaven. Today’s reading is part one and deals with the Law. Part two deals with worship and religious practice and contains the Lord’s Prayer. Part three deals with trusting God and deeds of loving service to our neighbor.

When Matthew speaks of “the Law and the prophets” he means the whole Scripture. When the Messiah brings the fullness of the kingdom none of scripture will be done away with. Instead it will be fulfilled. Matthew’s Jesus does not overturn the Law of Moses, nor does he set his followers free from the Law. He requires his followers to go beyond the Law by doing more than the Law requires.

The Law condemned murder. Jesus condemns anger. The Law condemned adultery. Jesus condemns even lustful looks. As Jewish Christians who had always been faithful to the Law Matthew’s community need a way to understand the difference Jesus and the kingdom he brings have made. They affirmed that God had always been at work in history through “the Law and the prophets.” But God’s work goes beyond that to be embodied by the Messiah who reveals the definitive will of God. The written scriptures and their interpretation in tradition are surpassed by Jesus whose life and teaching are the definitive revelation of the will of God.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:17–37
I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill them.


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

Children at this age consider the right course of action to be the one that allows them to avoid punishment. Jesus teaches us that obeying God’s Law of love is to be done not just to avoid punishment but to show love to others.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Draw an octagon on the board (the shape of a STOP sign, with eight sides)

  2. Ask if any of the children recognize this shape. Explain that the shape is an octagon meaning that it has eight sides.

  3. Tell the children that this shape is also used for a traffic sign and that it is colored red and has one word on it. (a STOP sign)

  4. Say: We have STOP signs and other traffic signs to protect us and to keep us safe. These signs remind us that we have laws to obey.

  5. Write the word LAW on the board. Ask for volunteers to explain what a law is. (a rule that we must obey)

  6. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus talks about the Law that God has given us and how he has come to fulfill this Law.

  7. Read aloud Matthew 5:17–37.

  8. Ask: What does it mean to fulfill something? (to make it complete)

  9. Say: Jesus tells us in this Sunday’s Gospel that the best way to understand God’s Law of love, is to listen to Jesus and to live like him.

  10. Conclude this time together by praying the psalm for this Sunday.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:17–37
I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill them.


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

Children at this age are building their vocabulary with larger words. Jesus says that he has come, not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. We understand this Gospel better if we understand the meaning of the word abolish.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the children if they know what an abolitionist was. (someone opposed to the institution of slavery; someone who wanted to do away with the institution of slavery)

  2. Ask the children if they know what the Emancipation Proclamation was. (Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation that effectively abolished the institution of slavery)

  3. Write the word abolish on the board and ask if someone can define it. (to completely eliminate something; to do away with)

  4. Say: When Jesus began teaching, some people thought that he had come to abolish the Law of Moses that the Jewish people had been following for centuries. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus explains what he has come to do.

  5. Invite volunteers to read aloud Matthew 5:17–37.

  6. Ask: What did Jesus say about abolishing the Law? (He explains that he did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.)

  7. Say: Jesus teaches us that we fulfill the Law by going beyond the minimum requirements and by responding with love in all that we do.

  8. Ask: How long does Jesus say the Law will remain with us? (until heaven and earth pass away; forever)

  9. Conclude this time together by praying the psalm for this Sunday.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:17–37
I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill them.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age often strive to get by with making only minimum effort. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to go beyond the minimum requirements of the Law and to respond to others in love.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people if they know what the minimum wage is.

  2. Mention that although employers are required to pay the minimum wage, it is hoped that they will go beyond that and provide a living wage for their employees.

  3. Say: In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus points out that the Law requires people to do the minimum. He has come to teach us how to go beyond the minimum requirements of the Law and to respond to others with love.

  4. Invite volunteers to read aloud Matthew 5:17–37.

  5. Ask: What specific issues does Jesus address in this passage? (killing, anger, adultery, lust, marriage, divorce, oaths)

  6. Say: Jesus teaches us that “you shall not kill” is the minimum requirement of the Law, but in his kingdom we must also refrain from anger that is directed toward others. In all things, Jesus challenges us to go beyond the minimum.

  7. Conclude this time together by praying the Lord’s Prayer, asking that God’s kingdom may come.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:17–37
I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill them.


Family Connection

Families have rules. Without rules, family life would be chaos. As a family, brainstorm a list of rules that you are all called to follow in your home in order for you all to get along together. Think about rules for play time, rules for eating, rules for how to speak to one another, rules for going out with friends, and so on. Emphasize that families follow rules as a way of showing love and respect for one another. Explain that in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus talks about following the Law. Say: God’s Law of love can be thought of as rules that we are to follow in order to show our love and respect for one another. Read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Matthew 5:17–37. Talk specifically with one another about how anger is to be dealt with in your family. Conclude by praying for the grace to overcome anger and to show respect for one another as a family by following God’s Law of love.