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 Transfiguration of the Lord, Cycle B

Monday, August 6, 2018

This Day’s Readings

First Reading
Daniel 7:9-10,13-14
The prophet Daniel describes his vision of one like the Son of Man who received dominion from God.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 97:1-2,5-6,9
A song of praise to God our King

Second Reading
2 Peter 1:16-19
Peter says that the voice heard from heaven confirmed the truth of his testimony about Christ.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On August 6, our liturgy invites us to celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. This year, the feast falls on a Sunday. Our Gospel for this liturgy in Cycle B is the same as the Gospel proclaimed on the second Sunday of Lent. Recall that on the second Sunday of Lent in each Lectionary cycle the Gospel reading proclaims the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration, each time from a different Gospel. This feast calls to our attention the importance of this event in Jesus’ life, further affirmed by its report in each of the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

In Cycle B, our Gospel for this day is taken from the Gospel of Mark. The context for Mark’s Transfiguration story is similar to that found in both Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel. The Transfiguration occurs after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ prediction about his passion. In each of these Gospels, a discussion of the cost of discipleship follows the Transfiguration.

In each Gospel, Jesus takes three of his disciples—Peter, James, and John—to a high mountain. While they are there, Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus. In Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospel, there is reference to a conversation among Jesus, Elijah, and Moses, but only Luke’s Gospel includes the detail that this conversation is about what Jesus will accomplish in Jerusalem.

Elijah and Moses are both significant figures in the history of Israel. Moses led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and received from Yahweh the Ten Commandments. Appearing with Jesus at his Transfiguration, Moses represents the Law, which guides the lives of the Jewish people. Elijah is remembered as one of the most important prophets of Israel who helped the Israelites stay faithful to Yahweh. Some believe that Elijah’s return would signal the coming of the Messiah for the Jewish people. This belief is evidenced in the question posed by Jesus’ disciples after they have witnessed the Transfiguration. The appearance of these two important figures from Israel’s history indicates Jesus’ continuity with the Law and the prophets. They also reveal that Jesus is the fulfillment of all that was promised to the people of Israel.

Upon seeing Jesus with Elijah and Moses and having witnessed his Transfiguration, Peter offered to construct three tents for them. Mark’s Gospel reports that the disciples were terrified by what they had witnessed and that Peter’s offer was made in confusion. We also notice that Peter reverted from his earlier confession that Jesus is the Messiah, calling Jesus “rabbi” instead. As if in reply to Peter’s confusion, a voice from heaven spoke, affirming Jesus as God’s Son and commanding the disciples to obey him. This voice from heaven recalls the voice that was heard at Jesus’ baptism.

In his Transfiguration, we see an anticipation of the glory of Jesus’ Resurrection. In each of the reports of the Transfiguration, Jesus instructed the disciples to keep secret what they had seen until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. The disciples’ confusion continued as they wondered what Jesus meant by “rising from the dead.” Until they also witness his passion and death, the disciples cannot possibly understand Jesus’ Transfiguration. We, however, have the benefit of hindsight. In our hearing of it, we see in this event an anticipation of Jesus’ Resurrection, a foreshadowing of Christ’s glory in heaven, and the promise of our own resurrection.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

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

Young children love to share stories about events in their lives. We can lead them to appreciate the Bible as a book of stories told by Jesus’ followers so that we might believe that Jesus is God.

Materials Needed (Grades 1, 2, and 3)

  • Scrapbook or photo album
  • Bible

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings (Grades 1, 2, and 3)

  1. Bring a scrapbook or photo album from home and show it to the class. Ask the children what memories they have tried to preserve through photos or newspaper clippings. Say: When something special happens, we try to make it last by recording it. If Jesus walked into our room this very moment, what would you remember to tell your family about him? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What questions would you ask him?

  2. Say: In the Gospel this week, Jesus was with his friends on a high mountain when suddenly his clothes began to glow and two great men appeared with him—Moses and Elijah—who had died long before Jesus came to earth. Moses led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and gave them the Ten Commandments. Elijah was a great prophet who taught the people to be faithful to God. Let’s listen to this story from our Gospel today.

  3. Read aloud today’s Gospel, Mark 9:2-10.

  4. Say: This was a special moment for Jesus’ friends because they saw that Jesus was God. Peter wanted to preserve this memory by making three houses on the mountain—one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Jesus’ friends were probably anxious to tell everyone at home what had happened on the mountain. But Jesus asked them to wait until after his death, when he could prove to everyone that he was God by coming back to life.

  5. Say: After Jesus died and rose, his friends shared this special memory. It was written in the Bible, so that we too could know for sure that Jesus is God. Show the Bible to the children and allow time for them to look through it. Invite them to name other things that they have learned about Jesus from the Bible.

  6. Conclude in prayer together, thanking God for all the memories of Jesus that have been shared with us in the Bible. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

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

All of us seek affirmation in our lives, words and experiences that help us know that we are on the right track. In Jesus’ Transfiguration, we see God’s affirmation of Jesus and an affirmation of our faith that Jesus was glorified by God.

Materials Needed (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

  1. Ask: How do you know if you are doing the right thing, if you are on the right track, in learning a new skill? What things do your teachers, parents, or coaches do to let you know that you are on the right track? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: When we hear words of praise or encouragement, we sometimes say that we have been affirmed. To affirm something is to say yes to it. In today’s Gospel, we learn about an important affirmation experience in the life of Jesus and his disciples. It is called the Transfiguration. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel so that we can identify how Jesus is affirmed by this event and who offers this affirmation.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, Mark 9:2-10.

  4. Ask: What do the disciples see happening in today’s Gospel? (Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus; Jesus appearance is transformed into dazzling white; a voice from heaven speaks about Jesus.) Who are Elijah and Moses? (They are important people from Israel’s history. Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and delivered the Ten Commandments. Elijah was a prophet of Israel who helped the Israelites stay faithful to Yahweh.) What are some of the things affirmed about Jesus in this event? (that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Israel; that Jesus will be glorified by God; that Jesus is the Son of God) Do the disciples understand what they have witnessed? (No.) When will they understand what they have seen? (after Jesus rises from the dead)

  5. Say: As Christians continued to reflect on this event in the life of Jesus, it affirmed their belief that God glorified Jesus after his Resurrection from the dead. We profess our beliefs about Jesus in the Creed we say at Mass, the Nicene Creed, as well as in the Apostles’ Creed. Distribute copies of these prayers, or ask the young people to find these prayers in their book. Ask them to underline the sentences that profess our belief about the glory Jesus received from God after his Resurrection.

  6. Say: Because Christ was raised from the dead and sits in glory with God in heaven, we have faith and hope in Jesus’ promise to raise us up and to bring us to eternal life.

  7. Conclude in prayer together praising God for revealing to us the glory that Jesus received after his resurrection from the dead and for giving us the hope and promise of eternal life. Pray together the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Questioning and doubt about faith are often part of adolescent development. We can help young people learn that the journey of faith includes moments of doubt as well as certainty.

Materials Needed (Grades 7 and 8)

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings (Grades 7 and 8)

  1. Ask the young people: What does it mean to feel certain about something? What are some things that we know with certainty? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: In faith, Christians profess with certainty and conviction that Jesus is the Son of God. How do we know that Jesus is God’s Son? (Scripture and the Church teach us this; people of faith give witness to this.) What is some evidence for this that we find in Scripture? (the baptism of Jesus, the Resurrection, and so on)

  3. Say: In today’s Gospel we hear about a time when Jesus was revealed to his disciples as the Son of God.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, Matthew 17:1-9.

  5. Say: This important event in the life of Jesus and his disciples is called the Transfiguration. In this event a voice from heaven revealed that Jesus is God’s Son. For one moment, everything that the disciples were learning about Jesus seemed clear.

  6. Say: We might also have moments like this in our lives, moments when we feel like we are certain about what we believe. But like Peter, we might not know what to do with this. We may not understand what we have experienced until later. The disciples reflected on the Transfiguration and came to understand even more clearly what had been revealed to them about Jesus—that he was the Son of God who died and rose for our salvation.

  7. Conclude in prayer together asking God to help us have great faith in him in all the moments of our lives. Pray together the Act of Faith.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

Family Connection

Every family has special moments that they remember and share. In sharing these stories, the meaning and importance of these events develop and deepen over time. This is how it was with the disciples’ remembrance of Jesus’ Transfiguration. The full significance of what they had seen and experienced could only be understood after Jesus’ death and Resurrection. As they told other believers about this event and recorded the story for us in the Bible, our understanding of what it means to call Jesus God’s own Son has also deepened.

Gather as a family and think about some special family memories that your family tells over and over again. Talk about why these memories are important to you. Recall that in the Bible we find many important memories about Jesus that have been recorded for us so that we can believe that Jesus is God’s Son. Read today’s Gospel, Mark 9:2-10. What do we learn about Jesus from this Gospel? (He fulfills the promises God made to Israel through the Law and the Prophets; God glorified Jesus in his Resurrection; Jesus is God’s Son.) Conclude in prayer together that as we continue to read the Bible we will deepen our understanding and love for Jesus. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.