21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, C Sunday Connection

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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-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Sunday, August 25, 2019


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Isaiah 66:18-21
Nations of every language shall come to see my glory.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 117:1-2
Praise the Lord, all you nations.

Second Reading
Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13
Whom the Lord loves, he disciplines.

Gospel Reading
Luke 13:22-30
People will come from north and south, east and west, and take their place in the Kingdom of God.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today's Gospel reading is the third of three parables in chapter 13 that deal with the theme of the unexpected reversals brought by the Kingdom of God. The other two parables are about the tiny mustard seed that grows into a large tree and the small amount of yeast that makes a large batch of dough rise. All three are about the few and the many and the Kingdom of God.

As this parable opens, Luke reminds us that Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem. This journey, this exodus as Luke refers to it, makes up the entire middle of the Gospel. He is teaching as he goes. A question from the crowd gives Jesus the chance to make a prophetic statement. Luke uses this question device a number of times in his Gospel. A few weeks ago, the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” led to the parable of the Good Samaritan. The question about will only a few be saved uses typical Christian language about salvation but also expresses the Jewish concern about whether everyone who calls himself a Jew is actually faithful to the covenant. This was a concern of the Pharisees.

Jesus answers that they must strive in the time remaining to enter through the narrow door because many will be trying to get in but won't be strong enough. He then moves to a parable about another door. (The translation says “gate” then “door,” but the same Greek word is used.) Once all those entering the master's house are in and he locks the door, there will be no way for others to get in. Those left outside may knock, but the master will say he doesn't know them. Unlike the Gospel reading from a few weeks ago where Jesus was teaching about prayer, and we were told to knock and the door would be opened, in this parable, the master will not open and say he does not know us. People from the north, south, east, and west will take our place inside. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets will take our place in the Kingdom of God. Those who do not make it through the narrow door will be cast out to where there is wailing and grinding of teeth.

The image of the door is replaced in the final verses of the parable with the image of the heavenly banquet. Two passages from the Book of Isaiah influence the conclusion. Isaiah 43:5-6 speaks of God bringing Israel's descendents back from the east and from the west, the north and the south. And Isaiah 25:6 speaks of the Lord providing a feast of rich foods and choice wines for all peoples on his holy mountain. The answer to the question if only a few will be saved is no. In the end, many will be saved, but many who thought they would be saved will not be saved. The parable is a prophetic warning to repentance in order to enter the kingdom. 


Gospel Reading
Luke 13:22-30
People will come from north and south, east and west, and take their place in the Kingdom of God.


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

Younger children are beginning to see that their actions and choices have consequences. The parable that Jesus tells in this Sunday’s Gospel emphasizes the importance of not taking his invitation to eternal life for granted. 

Materials Needed

  • party hats (optional)

 Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. If you wish, hand out party hats. Ask: Have you ever been invited to a birthday party or another celebration? (Pause for children to raise their hands.) Ask: If the party started at noon and ended at two, what would happen if you arrived at three o’clock? (You’d be late. You missed the party.) 
  2. Say: In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us a parable about people who arrive at a house too late. Listen to learn what happens.
  3. Read aloud Luke 13:22–30. 
  4. Say: The master of the house had already locked the door. He did not allow the people to enter. They did not pay attention and arrived too late. 
  5. Say: Jesus loves us and invites us to share eternal life with God in heaven. But we cannot take his invitation for granted and do whatever we want. When we do and say things to grow closer to God, we are accepting Jesus’ invitation. What is something we can do or say to be closer to God and accept Jesus’ invitation? (Accept reasonable responses, such as pray, attend Mass, read Scripture, help others.)
  6. Close by praying the Lord’s Prayer. 


Gospel Reading
Luke 13:22-30
People will come from north and south, east and west, and take their place in the Kingdom of God.


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

Children at this age are beginning to take on more responsibility for getting to and from places on time. The danger of arriving late is more and more of a reality for them. The parable that Jesus tells in this Sunday's Gospel emphasizes the importance of being on time (not missing opportunities).

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the children to describe the schedule that they follow in school: what time they must arrive, what time class begins, what time lunch or recess begins and end, and what time they get out of school.

  2. After a few volunteers share their answers, ask if any of the children have other schedules that they have to follow such as practices, games, competitions, or tournaments. Invite a few volunteers to share their answers.

  3. Ask the children to describe what happens if they are late for any of the times that are established in their schedules. Say: What happens if you are late arriving to school? What happens if you are late arriving for a team practice? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  4. Say: In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus tells a story about some people who miss a deadline.

  5. Invite volunteers to read aloud Luke 13:22-30.

  6. Ask volunteers to summarize the passage in their own words.

  7. Say: Why do you think the master in the story did not allow the people to enter? (He had locked the gate for the night, and they arrived too late.)

  8. Say: We are all invited to share eternal life with God forever in heaven, but Jesus is warning us today that we cannot take that invitation for granted. We need to pay attention, to stay focused, and to take advantage of the opportunities we have to grow closer to our Lord.

  9. Tell the children that when we pray the Lord's Prayer, we ask that we pray to be delivered from temptation—those things that distract us from keeping focused on opportunities to grow closer to God.

  10. Conclude by praying aloud the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Luke 13:22-30
People will come from north and south, east and west, and take their place in the Kingdom of God.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people are often very competitive and like to prove that they are the best at something. The following demonstration will allow you to illustrate the importance of paying attention to opportunities, a message that comes through in this Sunday's Gospel.

Materials Needed

  • A Ping-Pong ball
  • A board (about the size of a large textbook)

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask if any of the students have been miniature golfing before.

  2. Point out that one of the obstacles at most miniature golf courses is a door that opens and closes (of lifts and falls), requiring you to time your putt just in time so that the ball will go through.

  3. Demonstrate this with a volunteer. Give the volunteer a Ping-Pong ball and ask him or her to roll it toward an object about 10 feet away. Stand next to and slightly in front of the object, holding a board that you lift up and down (about 6 inches off the ground) every few seconds.

  4. Allow several volunteers to attempt getting the ball past the obstacle.

  5. When you are finished with this demonstration, ask: What is required of the person rolling or putting the ball to make it past the obstacle? (You have to pay attention and have a good sense of timing.)

  6. In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus teaches us that we may run into obstacles trying to reach our ultimate goal of eternal life in heaven.

  7. Invite volunteers to read aloud Luke 13:22-30.

  8. Say: Why do you think the master in the story did not allow the people to enter? (He had locked the gate for the night, and they arrived too late.)

  9. Say: We are all invited to share eternal life with God forever in heaven, but Jesus is warning us today that we cannot take that invitation for granted. We need to pay attention, to stay focused, and to take advantage of the opportunities we have to grow closer to our Lord.

  10. Tell the students that when we pray the Lord's Prayer, we ask that we pray to be delivered from temptation—those things that distract us from keeping focused on opportunities to grow closer to God.

  11. Conclude by praying the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Luke 13:22-30
People will come from north and south, east and west, and take their place in the Kingdom of God.


Family Connection

Families take advantage of certain days throughout the year to celebrate individuals in the family and to make sure that they know that they are not taken for granted. As a family, recall all of the days that someone in the family was celebrated in the past year—birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, anniversaries, graduations, and so on. Next, challenge each individual to recall what gifts were received on the day(s) on which he or she was celebrated.

Emphasize that these days are intended to express appreciation in a special way but are not meant to replace the appreciation that we should always show. Point out how, at times, families can take one another for granted. Explain that in this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus tells a story about some people who took something for granted and paid a price. Read aloud Luke 13:22-30. Explain that, in this story, some people took it for granted that they could enter the house whenever they wanted, but the master locked the gate and would not let them in after hours. Point out that Jesus was warning his listeners not to assume that they will have eternal life in heaven and not to take this invitation for granted.

As a family, commit to showing appreciation for one another in the days ahead, striving to not take for granted any of the many things that family members do in their roles as parents and children.