Sunday Connection

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.


Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, September 23, 2018


This Sunday’s Readings


First Reading
Wisdom 2:12,17-20
The just one is put to the test.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 54:3-4,5,6 & 8
A prayer for God’s protection.

Second Reading
James 3:16—4:3
James teaches about the wisdom from above.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:30-37
Jesus teaches his disciples that the greatest are those who serve all.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus again predict his passion, death, and Resurrection to his disciples. The setting here is important. Jesus and his disciples are preparing to journey through Galilee, a Jewish territory in which Jesus has already encountered problems with the Pharisees. Perhaps this is why Mark indicates that Jesus was trying to journey in secret. In predicting his passion, Jesus is acknowledging the danger they will face and is trying to preparing his disciples for it. Yet Mark tells us that the disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying and were afraid to ask what he meant. Such hesitation on the part of the disciples is not characteristic behavior. Peter had no fear about rebuking Jesus in last week’s Gospel. Perhaps this is an indication that the disciples were aware that a new situation was emerging.

Mark paints a vivid picture in today’s Gospel. Having arrived at Capernaum, Jesus and his disciples enter a house. In this private place, Jesus asks his disciples about the argument they had while they were journeying. Again, the disciples are uncharacteristically silent and afraid to answer. They have been found out. Jesus then summons the Twelve, whom Mark identified earlier in his Gospel as those chosen by Jesus to preach and to drive out demons. To this select group of disciples, Jesus teaches that those who would be first in God’s kingdom must be servants of all.

Jesus then calls forward a child and teaches the Twelve that to receive a child in Jesus’ name is to receive both Jesus and the One who sent him. We might easily fail to understand the significance of this action. In first-century Palestine, children were without status or power, possessing no legal rights. In this action, Jesus is teaching his disciples and us that when we serve the least ones among us, we serve Jesus himself. Who are the people without power or status in our society that Jesus is calling us to serve? Do we do so willingly? Jesus teaches that God’s judgment of us will be based on this criterion alone.


Gospel Reading
Mark 9:30-37
Jesus teaches his disciples that the greatest are those who serve all.


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

Young children sometimes have a difficult time recognizing that other people have needs, just as they do. We can teach them to recognize and to serve the needs of others as they learn to meet their own needs.

Materials Needed

  • A different-colored crayon for each child
  • A page from a coloring book for each child

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Give each child a different colored crayon and a page from a coloring book. Ask the children who thinks that he or she has the best color and why. If some children do not like the color of their crayon, point out several things that could not be colored without it. Then ask who would like to keep just that one crayon to use the rest of the year or who would like to share it with others so that everyone can have multicolored pictures.

  2. Say: When we serve others by giving up something, we all gain something. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that to be great is to think about what others need instead of thinking about ourselves.

  3. Read today’s Gospel, Mark 9:33-37.

  4. Allow the children to share their crayons and color their pages while you brainstorm what they might do to serve the needs of others.

  5. Conclude in prayer, together asking God to help us serve others with love. Pray together the Morning Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Mark 9:30-37
Jesus teaches his disciples that the greatest are those who serve all.


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

Older children have already learned what it takes to be a famous and important person in our society. We can help them learn that as Christians we have a different set of criteria for greatness.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the group to name some people who are famous (actors, athletes, politicians, and so on). Ask the group to consider the question: Why are these people famous? Invite them to identify some of the things that people do to become famous.

  2. Say: Some people in our society become famous for their abilities, such as athletes and actors. Other people become famous because they have accepted important jobs, such as leaders of government and politicians.

  3. Ask: Would you like to be famous? Why or why not? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  4. Say: In today’s Gospel, we learn that some of Jesus’ first disciples argued about which of them was the greatest or the most important. Even they wanted to be famous! Jesus teaches them something surprising about what it means to be great in God’s eyes.

  5. Invite one or more volunteers to read today’s Gospel, Mark 9:30-37.

  6. Ask: What did Jesus tell his disciples would make them great? (serving others, especially serving the least ones among us) Do you think God cares if people are famous? (No.) What will make us great in God’s eyes? (if we serve other people in love)

  7. Conclude in prayer together, asking God to help you serve others with love. Pray together Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Prayer for Generosity.


Gospel Reading
Mark 9:30-37
Jesus teaches his disciples that the greatest are those who serve all.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

In seeking to establish themselves in the community beyond the family, young people often compare themselves with their peers. We can help them understand that greatness in God’s eyes is measured by the service we give to others.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people to think about the question: What makes a person popular? As the young people share their ideas, invite a volunteer to write these things on the board. Ask: Why do you think people want to be popular? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: Sometimes people are very concerned about being popular among their peers. Sometimes we compare ourselves to other people or make judgments about others based on popularity. In today’s Gospel, we learn that Jesus doesn’t want people to compare themselves to one another. Instead, he says that we should be focused on one thing only. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel to learn what Jesus thinks is most important.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, Mark 9:30-37.

  4. Ask: What were the disciples arguing about as they journeyed with Jesus? (They were concerned about who was greatest.) What does Jesus tell them? (serving others makes a person great.)

  5. Ask: Let’s look back at our list of what makes a person popular. Was serving others on this list? Why or why not? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  6. Say: Jesus teaches us in today’s Gospel that God does not care how popular we are. There is only one thing that is important in God’s view of us: Have we served others generously with love?

  7. Conclude in prayer together, asking God to help you serve others with love. Pray together Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Prayer for Generosity.


Gospel Reading
Mark 9:30-37
Jesus teaches his disciples that the greatest are those who serve all.


Family Connection

Conversations such as the one described in today’s Gospel are common in family life. Perhaps these examples are familiar: “I should get the first piece of cake because I am the youngest;” “I did the dishes yesterday; someone else should do them today.” How might we respond if Jesus asked about our family arguments? What would Jesus say to us in reply? All of us need the reminder found in today’s Gospel: To be great in God’s Kingdom is to be the servant of all.

As you gather as a family, recall a recent family argument about household chores or an example of bickering among family members. Talk about what was at issue in the argument. Together imagine that Jesus entered the room just as the argument ended. What would you tell Jesus your argument was about? What might Jesus say in reply? Read together today's Gospel, Mark 9:30-37. How was your family argument like the argument among Jesus’ disciples? What might your family do to remember that those who are great in God’s kingdom are those who willingly serve others? Pray together that your family life will reflect your commitment to serve one another with love. Pray Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Prayer for Generosity.