23d 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-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Sunday, September 8, 2019


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Wisdom 9:13-18b
Knowledge alone has limits. We also need wisdom to understand the ways of God.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 90:3-4,5-6,12-13,14-17
God's power has no boundaries; it is not limited by space and time.

Second Reading
Philemon 9-10, 12-17
Paul encourages one of his converts to consider his former slave a brother in Christ Jesus.

Gospel Reading
Luke 14:25-33
Jesus teaches about the demands of discipleship.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In chapter 14 of Luke's Gospel, Jesus is speaking to people gathered at the table about the difficulties of following him. This group of people is suspicious about Jesus, looking to catch him doing something wrong. Jesus speaks to them in parables, emphasizing that although there is a right way to be a disciple and enter into the kingdom of his Father, it is a difficult path to follow. Many, even some of the guests at the table, reject the invitation. So Jesus turns to the crowds and speaks to them of discipleship. Jesus explains that, when it comes to making a choice for the Kingdom of God, nothing can get in the way. When Jesus describes “hating” one's father and mother, he is not talking about feelings. Rather, he is emphasizing very strongly that choosing to be a disciple means that everything else—family, money, your own life—must come second. In Matthew's version of this story (Matthew 10:37), Jesus refers not to “hating” father or mother, but to loving them more than Jesus. Jesus makes it very clear that being a disciple is not easy. It means to bear one's own cross. These difficult sayings of Jesus are followed by two brief parables (a person constructing a tower and a king marching into battle) that make an obvious point—don't start what you cannot finish. Discipleship is difficult and is something we can commit to only if we are prepared to put the Kingdom of God before everything else.


Gospel Reading
Luke 14:25-33
Jesus teaches about the demands of discipleship.


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

While younger children often need the help of adults in prioritizing, they are able to recognize that some activities take priority over others in different circumstances. Understanding what it means to prioritize will help them understand Jesus’ call to prioritize following him above all else.

Materials Needed

  • none

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Explain to children that setting priorities means deciding what is most important, and then next most important, and so on. Ask children the following questions:
  2. If you are late getting ready for school, which is more important, to brush your teeth or finish your video game? (to brush your teeth) Say: Yes, brushing your teeth is a priority. Finishing a video game might be important, but it’s not the priority. You can play your video game later.
    If you are in class, which is more important, to daydream or to listen carefully? (listen carefully)
    If it is time for dinner, which is more important, to set the table or to look to see what’s on TV? (set the table)
  3. Say: In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, his followers, what our most important priority in life should be.  
  4. Read Luke 14:25–33.
  5. Say: Jesus tells us our number-one priority is to follow him. Everything else, even loving our families. When Jesus talks about hating our families, he doesn’t mean we should actually hate them. He means that following him comes first. When we put Jesus first, we will be truly happy. 
  6. Close by praying the Glory Be to the Father.


Gospel Reading
Luke 14:25-33
Jesus teaches about the demands of discipleship.


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

As children grow older, they are capable of doing more and taking on more responsibilities. For this reason, it is important for them to learn how to set priorities. Sometimes making priorities and sticking to them can be very difficult and requires sacrifice. Jesus wants us to know that following him is difficult, but the reward—fullness of life—is worth it.

Materials Needed

  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the children to brainstorm a list of three to five things they need to do when they get home today (homework, chores, dinner, and so on) as well as everything that they would like to do when they get home (take a nap, go out with friends, watch TV, play video games, and so on). Have them work individually. Invite a few volunteers to share their lists.

  2. Ask if anyone knows what it means to set priorities (to arrange in order of importance). Have the children make another list that sets the three most important priorities for their activities for the rest of the day. Have them work individually and then invite a few volunteers to share their lists.

  3. Say: Setting priorities is not easy, especially at your age. Having fun may be important to you, but your parents probably feel that doing your homework is more important. You're learning how to set priorities. In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus speaks to us about how, if we want to follow him, we have to make him our number-one priority. He also talks to us about how difficult this can be.

  4. Direct the children to open their Bibles to Luke 14:25-33. Invite a volunteer to read verses 25 through 27, another to read verses 28 through 30, and another to read verses 31 through 33.

  5. Ask: After listening to this Gospel, do you think that it is easy or hard to be Jesus' disciple? (hard) Why do you think it sounds hard to be a disciple of Jesus? (He says we can't do it without hating members of our family; we have to carry our own cross.) Say: That does sound very difficult. It's important to know that Jesus isn't telling us to hate our family members. He uses that expression to explain that we can't love anyone or anything more than him if we really want to follow him. Jesus is teaching us that in order to follow him, we need to set priorities. What stories does he tell about setting priorities? (A person constructing a tower must calculate the cost; a king marching into battle must count his troops.)

  6. Ask: Can something be difficult but still be good for you? (Yes) What are some examples? (practicing for a sport, doing homework, exercising, eating the right foods, and so on) Ask: If following Jesus is so difficult, why would you want to do it? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Say: Jesus wants us to know that by following him, we will find happiness. At the same time, he wants us to know that following him is not always easy. We're lucky that Jesus is so honest with us about what it takes to follow him.

  7. Invite the children to take their list of priorities that they completed earlier and to insert a new Number 1: LOVE GOD WITH ALL MY HEART, SOUL, MIND, AND STRENGTH. Have them re-number their other priorities. Ask: What are some ways that we can show that God is our number-one priority? (obeying our parents and teachers, caring for others, treating others as we would like to be treated, following his commandments, participating at Mass, praying, and so on) 

  8. End by praying the Prayer to the Holy Spirit or by praying the responsorial psalm for this Sunday.


Gospel Reading
Luke 14:25-33
Jesus teaches about the demands of discipleship.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

As young people grow older, they become more capable of not only doing more, but also of taking on more responsibilities. For this reason, it is important for them to learn how to set priorities. Sometimes making priorities and sticking to them can be very difficult and requires sacrifice. Jesus wants us to know that following him is difficult, but the reward—fullness of life—is worth it.

Materials Needed

  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the students to imagine that they have been granted a holiday in the upcoming week. Have them each write a short list of what they would do on this free day. Then have them rank their ideas in the order of what they would like to do most.

  2. Tell the students that when their parents find out about the day off, they might have different expectations about how the time should be spent. Have them each write a short list of what they think their parents would want them to do on this free day.

  3. Ask if anyone knows what it means to “set priorities.” (to arrange in order of importance)

  4. Say: Chances are your list and your parents' list are not the same. You probably have different priorities. Having fun may be important to you, but your parents probably feel that doing your homework is more important. In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus speaks to us about how, if we want to follow him, we have to make him our number-one priority. He also talks to us about how difficult this can be.

  5. Direct the students to open their Bibles to Luke 14:25-33. Invite a volunteer to read aloud verses 25-27, another to read verses 28-30, and another to read verses 31-33.

  6. Ask: After listening to this Gospel, do you think that it is easy or difficult to be Jesus' disciple? (difficult) Why do you think it is difficult to be a disciple of Jesus? (Jesus says we can't be disciples without hating members of our family. We have to carry our own cross.) Say: That does sound very difficult. It is important to know, however, that Jesus isn't telling us to hate our family members. He uses that expression to explain that we can't love anyone or anything more than him if we really want to follow him. Jesus is teaching us that in order to follow him, we need to set priorities. What stories does he tell about setting priorities? (A person constructing a tower must calculate the cost. A king marching into battle must count his troops.)
  7.  Ask: Can something be difficult but still be good for you? (yes) What are some examples? (practicing for a sport, doing homework, exercising, eating the right foods) Ask: If following Jesus is so difficult, why would you want to do it? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Say: Jesus wants us to know that by following him, we will find happiness. At the same time, he wants us to know that following him is not always easy. We're lucky that Jesus is so honest with us about what it takes to follow him.

  8. Ask: What are some ways that we can show that God is our number-one priority? (Examples: obeying our parents and teachers, caring for others, treating others as we would like to be treated, following his commandments, participating at Mass, praying)

  9. End by praying the responsorial psalm for this Sunday.

 


Gospel Reading
Luke 14:25-33
Jesus teaches about the demands of discipleship.


Family Connection

Provide your children with a list of things that they are responsible for interspersed with things that they like to do—for example, make their beds, take out the garbage, go to the park, do homework, watch television, have a snack, feed the cat. The list should reflect their responsibilities and favorite recreations. Tell them to pretend that company is coming and ask which of the things listed should be done first. Explain that this is called setting priorities.

Paraphrase the Gospel story for the children. Ask them what Jesus says is the most important thing for them to do. Jesus tells us that the number-one priority is to follow him. But just as it is not always easy to do the things we are supposed to do before doing the fun things, it is not always easy to be a follower of Jesus. Yet when we put Jesus first, we will be truly happy.