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 A

Sunday, August 6, 2017

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

Matthew 17:1–9
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s liturgy invites us to celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. 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 A, the reading for this feast is taken from the Gospel of Matthew. The Transfiguration occurs after Peter confesses his belief that Jesus is the Messiah and after Jesus predicts his Passion. In each of these Gospels, a discussion of the cost of discipleship precedes 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 and converse with Jesus. Elijah and Moses are both significant figures in the history of Israel. Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and received from Yahweh the Ten Commandments. Moses represents the Law, which guides the lives of the Jewish people. Elijah is one of the most important prophets of Israel who helped the Israelites stay faithful to Yahweh, and some believed that Elijah’s return would signal the coming of the Messiah for the Jewish people. The appearance of these two figures from Israel’s history indicated 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 witnessing Jesus’ Transfiguration and seeing Jesus with Elijah and Moses, an awestruck Peter offered to construct three tents for them when a voice from Heaven affirms that Jesus is "my beloved Son" and commands the disciples to listen to him.
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 has been raised from the dead." Until they witnessed Jesus’ Passion and Death, the disciples could not possibly understand what he meant by being "raised from the dead." We, however, have the benefit of hindsight. In our hearing of the Transfiguration Gospel, we see an anticipation of Jesus’ Resurrection, a foreshadowing of Christ’s glory in Heaven, and the promise of our own resurrection.


Gospel Reading

Matthew 17:1–9
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 about Jesus' life, told by his followers, that explains that Jesus is the Son of God.

Materials Needed

  • Scrapbook or photo album

  • Bible

Preparation for Scripture Readings

  1. Bring a scrapbook or photo album from home and show it to the class. Ask the children what special events they have tried to record and share through drawing, writing, or taking photos. Allow time for the children to share their stories. Say: When something special happens, we want to remember it and share our memories with others. Sometimes we draw a picture, take a photograph, or write a story to help us. If Jesus walked into our room this very moment, what would you do to help you remember your time with him. (Accept all reasonable answers.) Would you be excited to tell your family about 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 was even a baby. 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 the Gospel.

  3. Read aloud today’s Gospel, Matthew 17:1–9.

  4. Say: This was a special moment for Jesus’ friends because they saw that Jesus was the Son of God. Peter wanted to save this memory by putting up three tents on the mountain—one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Jesus’ friends were probably anxious to tell their friends 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 the Son of God by coming back to life.

  5. Say: After Jesus died on the cross and rose, his friends shared this special memory on the mountain. It was written in the Bible so that we too could know for sure that Jesus is the Son of God.

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


Gospel Reading

Matthew 17:1–9
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain in the presence of Peter, James, and John.


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

Children in this age group, like all of us, seek affirmation in their lives. They need to hear words of encouragement and to have experiences that help them know that they are on the right track. In Jesus’ Transfiguration, we see both God’s affirmation of Jesus and an affirmation of our faith.

Materials Needed

  • Copies of the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed, one for each child

Preparation for Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: How do you know if you are doing the right things—if you are on the right track—in pursuing a goal or 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 responses.)

  2. Say: When we hear words of praise or encouragement, we 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, witnessed by three of 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, Matthew 17:1–9.

  4. Ask: What do the disciples see happening in today’s Gospel? (Jesus’ face "shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light." Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus. A voice from Heaven speaks about Jesus.) Who are Elijah and Moses? (They are important people in 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? (Jesus is the Son of God. We should listen to Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Israel.) Do you think the disciples fully understood what they have witnessed? (No.) Explain that the disciples, unlike us, don’t yet know what will happen to Jesus. When will they understand? (a Jesus is raised from the dead)

  5. Say: As Christians continue to reflect on this event in the life of Jesus, it affirms their belief that God glorified Jesus after his Resurrection. We profess our beliefs about Jesus in the Creeds we say at Mass—the Nicene Creed or the Apostles’ Creed. (Distribute copies of one of these prayers to the children. Ask them to underline the sentences that profess our belief about the glory that Jesus received after the Resurrection.)

  6. Say: Because Jesus 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 bring us to eternal life.

  7. In prayer praise God for revealing to us the glory that Jesus received after his Resurrection and for giving us the hope and promise of eternal life. Conclude by praying aloud together the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed.


Gospel Reading

Matthew 17:1–9
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain in the presence of Peter, James, and John.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Questioning and doubting one’s 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

  • Copies of the Act of Faith, one for each young person

Preparation for Scripture Readings

  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? (Possible responses: Scripture and the Church teach us this; people of faith give witness to this belief.) What is some evidence from Scripture that Jesus is the Son of God? (The baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan and the voice from Heaven declaring that Jesus is God’s beloved Son; 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. Thus, as the disciples had suspected, Jesus is the Messiah.

  6. Say: We might also have moments like this in our lives, moments when we are certain about what we believe. But, like Peter, we may not understand fully what we have experienced until later. The disciples reflected on the Transfiguration after the events of the Lord’s Passion and came to understand what had been revealed to them about Jesus on the mountain—that he is the Son of God who would die and rise for our Salvation.

  7. Conclude in prayer asking God to calm our fears, confirm us in our belief, and strengthen our faith. Pray aloud together the Act of Faith.


Gospel Reading

Matthew 17:1–9
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 the events develops and deepens 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 Peter, James, and John reflected on the event and told other believers about the Transfiguration, their own faith deepened. Because Matthew, Mark, and Luke recorded the account of the Transfiguration in their writings, we too can deepen our faith in Jesus, the Son of God and our Savior.
Gather as a family and think about some special memories that your family recalls over and over again. Talk about why these moments are important to you. Remember that in the Bible we find many important stories about Jesus. They have been recorded so that we too can learn about him and his teachings, so that we too can come to know and love Jesus, God’s beloved Son. Read today’s Gospel, Matthew 17:1–9. Discuss as a family how Jesus fulfills the promises that God made to Israel and how God glorified Jesus after the Resurrection. Talk about your family and the promises you have made to one another. Conclude by praying together the Lord’s Prayer so that as a family you continue to grow in faithfulness to one another and to your heavenly Father.