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.


Third Sunday of Lent, Cycle B

Sunday, March 4, 2018

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
Exodus 20:1-17 (or shorter form, Exodus 20:1-3,7-8,12-17)
Moses is given the Ten Commandments.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 19:8,9,10,11
A prayer of praise to God who gives us his commandments

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Paul preaches Christ crucified to the Corinthians.

Gospel Reading
John 2:13-25
Jesus drives out the moneychangers from the Temple and says that he will destroy the temple and raise it up again.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In today’s Gospel we read about how Jesus overturned the tables of the merchants and the moneychangers in the Temple at Jerusalem. In order to understand the relevance of Jesus’ action, we must learn more about the activities that were going on in the temple area. Worship at the Temple in Jerusalem included animal sacrifice, and merchants sold animals to worshipers. Moneychangers exchanged Roman coins, which bore the image of the Roman emperor, for the temple coins that were needed to pay the temple tax.

Jesus’ action at the Temple in Jerusalem is recorded in all four Gospels and is often understood to be among the events that led to Jesus’ arrest and Crucifixion. The Gospel of John, however, places this event much earlier in Jesus’ public ministry than do the Synoptic Gospels. In John’s Gospel this event occurs at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, after his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

We must read the Gospel of John carefully, especially in its presentation of Jesus’ relationship to Judaism. The Gospel of John tends to reflect greater tension and animosity between Jesus and the Jewish authorities than the Synoptic Gospels. The Gospel of John was the last of the four Gospels to be written, and its narrative reflects the growing divide between the Jewish community and the early Christian community. Thus, greater emphasis on the distinction between Christianity and Judaism is found in John’s Gospel.

Reflecting upon the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), John recalls Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple and uses that story to interpret this later event. John explains to his audience, an early Christian community, that temple worship would no longer be necessary because it was surpassed in the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. With greater frequency than the other Evangelists, John intersperses post-Resurrection reflections of this Christian community in his narrative.

After clearing the Temple of the merchants and the moneychangers, John’s Gospel tells us that the people asked for a sign of Jesus’ authority to do such an audacious act. In response, Jesus predicted his death and Resurrection. Throughout John’s Gospel, the language of signs is distinctive. Jesus’ miracles are called signs, and the people look to these signs for proof of his authority. Here we learn that the sign par excellence will be Jesus’ passion, death, and Resurrection.

During Lent we reflect upon the meaning of this sign for us and for our world. We might take this opportunity to consider the quality of our prayer and worship. In our prayers we seek to deepen our relationship with the person of Christ. In our worship with the community, we gather to experience anew the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus and its significance in our lives. Christ promises to be present with us when we gather for prayer.


Gospel Reading
John 2:13-25
Jesus drives out the moneychangers from the Temple and says that he will destroy the temple and raise it up again.


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

Young children think in concrete, literal ways. Like the people who heard Jesus in today’s Gospel, they take Jesus’ teachings literally. Jesus, however, sometimes taught using figures of speech and metaphors that his followers understood only after his Resurrection.

Materials Needed

  • Sheets of paper rolled into the shape of a tube, fastened with tape, one for each child

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Roll sheets of paper into tubes and secure them with tape. Give each child a tube. Tell the children that you can put a hole right through their hands without hurting them. Have them put the tube up to their right eye and close the eye. Then tell them to put their left hand slightly to the left of the tube’s opening, with the palm toward their face. Have them point the tube a bit to the left and open their right eye. With both eyes open, it will appear that their left hand has a hole.

  2. Next tell them you can make a part of their finger leave their hand and float. Have the children press their index fingers together at the tips with their thumb and other fingers tucked in so their index fingers make a straight line. Tell the children to raise their fingers to eye level and look beyond their fingers to something across the room. Have them slowly pull their index fingers apart and it will seem as though there is a piece of their finger floating between them.

  3. Say: Sometimes things seem pretty unbelievable. In the Gospel this week, Jesus becomes angry and says something unbelievable to the people. Listen while I read it to see if you can hear the unbelievable words.

  4. Read aloud today’s Gospel, John 2:13-22.

  5. Say: Just as you didn’t really get a hole in your hand and a piece of your finger didn’t really float, Jesus didn’t really mean to knock down the Temple and put it back together again in three days. He was referring to himself as the Temple. When Jesus died on Good Friday, he knew he would come back to life in three days. The people didn’t understand. But when he rose from the dead, they saw for themselves, and many believed.

  6. Conclude in prayer together that we will believe all that Jesus taught us and that Jesus is God’s Son because we, too, know that God raised him from the dead. Pray together the Act of Faith.


Gospel Reading
John 2:13-25
Jesus drives out the moneychangers from the Temple and says that he will destroy the temple and raise it up again.


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

We can experience God’s presence any time and any place. We gather to pray in our churches, however, because we believe that Christ is present there in a special way.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: What are some places that we believe are holy? (churches, shrines, altars, the tabernacle) What makes a place holy? (A place is holy because we experience God’s presence there.) What do we do at holy places? (worship God, gather for celebrations)

  2. Say: Just as we have important holy places where we gather to pray and to worship God, there was a special holy place for the Jewish people in Jerusalem when Jesus was alive. This place was the Temple. It was first built by King Solomon to house the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments. That first temple was destroyed in 587 B.C., long before Jesus was born. But a second temple was built in its place when the Jewish people were able to return to Jerusalem. This is the Temple that Jesus knew, and it had recently been expanded under King Herod. But Jesus does an unusual thing at the Temple in today’s Gospel. Let’s listen carefully.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, John 2:13-25.

  4. Ask: What did Jesus do in today’s Gospel? (He cleared out the merchants and moneychangers from the Temple.) Why do you think that he did this? (He said that they were making the Temple look more like a marketplace.) Say: The merchants were selling animals to people who came to worship at the Temple. The people offered the animals in sacrifice as part of their prayer. The moneychangers were exchanging Roman coins for temple coins because the Roman coins were engraved with the image of the emperor, who said that he was like a god. These coins could not be used when making an offering at the Temple.

  5. Ask: What was Jesus’ response to the people who asked for a sign to show his authority to do this? (Jesus said that he would destroy this Temple and raise it up in three days.)
    What do the people say in response? (They said that such a feat would be impossible; they knew that it had taken 46 years to build the Temple.) The Gospel tells us that Jesus' disciples would later have a different understanding about what he said. What would the disciples understand Jesus to mean? (The disciples would understand this to be a reference to Jesus' death and Resurrection.) When did the disciples begin to understand this? (only after Jesus' Resurrection)

  6. Say: The Gospel of John was written many years after Jesus' death and Resurrection. The Romans had destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, and the Jewish people could no longer worship there. This was a terrible and sad event for the Jewish people. But the Jewish people continued to worship God in their homes and in synagogues. In today's reading, we hear one way in which the Christian community tried to understand the destruction of the Temple.

  7. Say: As Christians, we experience God's presence in many ways. We believe that the places where we gather as a community to pray—our churches— are holy. We also believe that Christ is present in a special way in the Eucharist, which is reserved in the tabernacle in our churches so that we can pray in Christ's presence.

  8. Conclude in prayer together asking God to help us offer wholehearted praise and worship. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
John 2:13-25
Jesus drives out the moneychangers from the Temple and says that he will destroy the temple and raise it up again.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Our churches are places of prayer and worship because Christ is present in them in a special way. We can take time this Lent to consider the quality of our prayer and worship and assist young people to appreciate more fully that we show reverence for Christ in worship and in how we live each day.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask that those who have been a spectator at a sporting event to raise their hands. Then ask those who have attended an orchestra concert to raise their hands. Invite volunteers to compare behavior expected at a sporting event with behavior expected in a concert hall. Discuss why behavior is different in these two settings. Then ask the young people what kind of behavior is expected when we gather at church.

  2. Invite the young people to describe ways we show reverence when in church. Discuss why we show reverence in church (for example, it is a holy place; it is God’s house; we experience God’s presence there).

  3. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear about Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, a special holy place for the Jewish people. [Offer this background information about the Temple: The Temple was first built by King Solomon to house the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments. In 587 B.C., long before Jesus was born, invaders from Babylon destroyed this Temple, and most of the Jewish people were taken into exile. But a second Temple was built in its place when the Jewish people were able to return to Jerusalem. This second Temple, which had been recently expanded under King Herod, is the Temple that Jesus knew.] Jesus does an unusual thing at the Temple in today’s Gospel. Let’s listen carefully.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, John 2:13–25.

  5. Ask: What did Jesus do in today’s Gospel? (He cleared out the merchants and moneychangers from the Temple area.) What does Jesus call the Temple? (“my Father’s house”) Explain that merchants sold animals to be offered in sacrifice at the Temple. The Roman coins could not be used to purchase a Temple offering because they were engraved with the image of the Roman emperor, who said that he was like a god. Therefore, moneychangers exchanged Roman coins for Temple coins.

  6. Observe that the people who saw Jesus asked him to explain his actions. What did Jesus say when the people asked for a sign of his authority? (“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”) How would you describe the people’s response to Jesus’ words? (disbelief because they took Jesus’ words literally)

  7. Say: The Gospel tells us that Jesus’ disciples would later have a different understanding about what he said. What would the disciples understand Jesus to mean? (Jesus is himself the Temple that will be destroyed, but in three days, God will raise him up again, referring to Jesus’ death and Resurrection.)

  8. Say: After Jesus was raised from the dead, the disciples knew that Jesus was present with them when they gathered for prayer. Our churches are holy places because we experience Christ’s presence when we gather for prayer. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is also present with us each day. We show reverence not only at church, but also in our actions each day. Discuss how we can show reverence in our daily actions.

  9. Conclude in prayer together, asking God to help us offer wholehearted praise and worship. Pray together the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 19.


Gospel Reading
John 2:13-25
Jesus drives out the moneychangers from the Temple and says that he will destroy the temple and raise it up again.


Family Connection

Today’s Gospel invites us to reflect upon our worship of God. For Jesus and his Jewish contemporaries, the Temple was an important, holy place where they gathered to worship God. The Christian understanding of worship was transformed in light of Jesus’ Resurrection. In the Christian understanding, God is worshiped in a person, the person of Jesus Christ. As we read in today’s Gospel, Jesus is himself the Temple that will be destroyed, but in three days God will raise him up again.

As you gather as a family, talk about places and times when you have experienced God’s presence. After his Resurrection, Jesus’ disciples understood that Jesus was present with them as they gathered to pray and especially when they gathered to share a meal. Read together today’s Gospel, John 2:13-25. Jesus teaches us in today’s Gospel that he is God’s presence with us. Thank God for Jesus’ presence with us, especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.