24th 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-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Sunday, September 15, 2019


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Exodus 32:7-11,13-14
Moses stands up to God, recalling all of God's great promises.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,17,19
Once we are forgiven, we can hope for a new heart and a fresh start.

Second Reading
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Paul proves it's never too late to repent and serve God.

Gospel Reading
Luke 15:1-32
Jesus responds to those who criticize him for keeping company with the unworthy.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In chapter 15 of Luke's Gospel, Jesus tells three parables about losing, finding, and rejoicing. The outcasts of society, the taxpayers, and the sinners approach Jesus eager to hear what he has to say. In Luke's Gospel, hearing is a sign of conversion. The Pharisees and scribes, still suspicious of Jesus, complain about him associating with sinners. So he tells them these three parables.

In the first story, the parable of The Lost Sheep, the shepherd leaves behind the 99 sheep to search for the 1 lost sheep. When he finds it, the shepherd rejoices not alone as in Matthew's version, but with friends and neighbors. In the same way, God rejoices more over 1 sinner who repents—like the outcasts who have come to hear Jesus—than over the 99 righteous like the Pharisees and scribes.

The second story, about a poor woman who will not stop searching until she finds her lost coin, makes the same point. Why are the Pharisees complaining? They should rejoice when the lost are found.

Finally we come to what is probably the most memorable parable in the Gospels, the story we know as The Prodigal Son. Just as in The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin, this story (found only in Luke) is really about the seeker. The loving father is at the center of this parable. Even though his son runs off with his father's inheritance and squanders the money, the father waits for him, hoping for his return. Upon his son's return, the father, “full of compassion,” runs out to embrace and forgive him before the son can utter one word of repentance. At this point the rejoicing begins.

The parable does not end there. Rather, it makes one more point about the older son's reaction. This son who never left, just like the Pharisees and scribes who feel they are righteous, refuses to enter his father's house to join in the rejoicing. He has served his father. He has obeyed him. Perhaps it was not out of love. The father's response teaches us that God's care and compassion extend to the righteous and sinner alike. When we are lost, God doesn't wait for our return. He actively seeks us out. And when the lost are found, how could we not celebrate and rejoice?


Gospel Reading
Luke 15:1-32
Jesus responds to those who criticize him for keeping company with the unworthy.


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

Younger children are comforted by consistency. Teach them that, no matter what we do, God never stops loving us, and he rejoices when we return to him by asking for forgiveness. 

Materials Needed

  • plush animal

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Tell children that you are going to play a game. One child will turn around and close his or her eyes while another child hides the plush animal. Then the group will help the child find the plush animal by clapping loudly when the child is getting closer and clapping softly when the child is getting farther away. Allow several volunteers to take turns being the finder. Encourage children to applaud each time the plush animal is found. 
  2. Say: In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells three parables, or stories, about something or someone being lost and then found. As I read, listen carefully to learn what was lost and found.
  3. Read aloud Luke 15:1–7. 
  4. Ask: What was lost? (a sheep) How did the shepherd feel when he found the sheep? (great joy) 
  5. Read aloud Luke 15:8–10.
  6. Ask: What did the woman lose? (a coin) What did she do when she found it? (gather her friends and neighbors to celebrate with her)
  7. Read aloud Luke 15:11–32.
  8. Ask: Who was lost in this parable? (the son) Say: The father was so happy that he had a party when his son returned to him. 
  9. Ask: How did the shepherd, the woman, and the father feel when they found what had been lost? (joy, happy) 
  10. Say: When we sin, or do something we know is wrong, we turn away from God and feel lost. God never stops loving us. He looks for us when we sin. He rejoices when we return to him and tell him we are sorry. He always forgives us. 
  11. Explain that when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer that God forgive our trespasses, we are praying that he forgives our sins. 
  12. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer. 


Gospel Reading
Luke 15:1-32
Jesus responds to those who criticize him for keeping company with the unworthy.


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

Children know that when they do something wrong, they face consequences. They are especially sensitive about letting down their parents or other authority figures whom they respect and love. When children do something wrong, they wonder if these people will still love them. In the same way, we wonder whether God will still love us when we do something wrong. In these parables, Jesus teaches us that God not only forgives us, but is actively seeking us out when we stray.

Materials Needed

  • A small object, such as a shell, a coin, or a small toy

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Play a simple game of Hide the Object. Select a small object and have the children close their eyes as you hide it somewhere in the room. Invite volunteers one at a time to try to find it, telling them if they are “hot” or “cold” depending on how close they are. Do this until someone finds the object or, if not found, after four or five minutes of seeking.

  2. Say: It's fun to look for something when it's a game, but when we lose something, it's not fun at all. When was a time that you lost something? (Invite a few volunteers to talk about an experience of looking for something that they had lost.) Say: In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus tells us three stories about something or someone being lost and then found.

  3. Invite one volunteer to read the story of The Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7), another to read the story of The Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10), and two volunteers to read the story of The Prodigal Son (one to read Luke 15:11-25 and the other to read verses 26-32).

  4. Invite volunteers to summarize the stories in their own words.

  5. Ask: Who are the three people who are seeking or searching in these stories? (a shepherd, a woman, and a father) What do these seekers teach us about God? (God is searching for us when we are lost.) What do these stories teach us about sin and forgiveness? (No matter what we do, God will take us back.)

  6. Say: Sometimes when people are lost, they are able to send up a flare—a bright flaming light—to signal for help. When we are lost because of sin, we can call out to God for help because he is always searching for us. Encourage the children to use their imaginations to draw a scene of someone rescuing a person who was lost (example: a helicopter rescuing a lost mountain climber).

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


Gospel Reading
Luke 15:1-32
Jesus responds to those who criticize him for keeping company with the unworthy.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people are exploring many new experiences in life in search of finding their place. As a result, they can often end up feeling lost. Jesus' parables in this Sunday's Gospel speak to the experience of being lost and then found.

Materials Needed

  • Small index cards
  • Pens or pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Give each of the students a small index card and have them write a brief description of a time that they, either alone or with family or friends, got lost. Have them describe the situation, how they felt when they were lost, how they were found, and how they felt when they were found.

  2. Tell the students not to sign their names.

  3. When they are finished, collect the cards and randomly choose several cards to read aloud to the group. 
  4.  Say: Being lost can be a confusing experience. Sometimes it can even be frightening. On the other hand, being found or finding our way is a great relief. In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus tells us three stories about something or someone being lost and then found.

  5. Invite one volunteer to read aloud the story of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7), another to read aloud the story of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10), and two volunteers to read aloud the story of the Prodigal Son (one to read Luke 15:11-25 and the other to read verses 26-32).

  6. Invite volunteers to summarize the stories.

  7. Ask: Who are the three people who are seeking or searching in these stories? (a shepherd, a woman, and a father) What do these seekers teach us about God? (They teach that God is searching for us when we are lost.) What do these stories teach us about sin and forgiveness? (No matter what we do, God will take us back.)

  8. Say: Sometimes when people are lost, they are able to send up a flare—a bright flaming light—to signal for help. When we are lost because of sin, we can call out to God in prayer for help because he is always searching for us.

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


Gospel Reading
Luke 15:1-32
Jesus responds to those who criticize him for keeping company with the unworthy.


Family Connection

Read or retell in your own words, the three stories from the Gospel. Ask your children to recall games they play that involve losing or hiding something and then finding it. (Hide and Go Seek, Ghost in the Graveyard, Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?) Talk about how exciting it is to find the person or thing being looked for.

Ask your children if they have any memories of losing something special or being lost themselves. Share the stories as well as the fears or feelings. Then tell them that just as you would go to any length to find and bring them home if they were lost, so too would God. That is what Jesus is telling us in the three stories. No matter what we do, no matter how wrong we are, God, our loving father, is always anxious to forgive us and welcome us back home.