31st 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.

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Sunday, November 3, 2019

This Sunday's Readings

First Reading
Wisdom 11:22—12:2
God is merciful because all things were created by God.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 145:1-2,8-9,10-11,13,14
Sing praise to God, who is faithful.

Second Reading
2 Thessalonians 1:11—2:2
Paul tells the Thessalonians to remain faithful to Christ until Christ comes again.

Gospel Reading
Luke 19:1-10
Jesus stays at the house of Zacchaeus, the tax collector.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In Jesus' day, tax collectors were not popular people. They were collaborators with the Romans and were despised by many Jewish people. The tax system allowed them to charge more than what was required so that they could make a profit for themselves. Thus, they were considered sinners by their countrymen. Observers in the crowd that day grumble because Jesus dines with a sinner. Throughout Scripture, Jesus' choice of dinner companions set him apart from other observant Jews of his time. In first century Jewish culture, to dine together was to show a bond of fellowship and peace among those at the table. Observant Jews did not generally dine with foreigners and sinners. Yet, Jesus chooses to honor the tax collector, Zacchaeus, by staying at his house.

Even before Jesus comes to his home, Zacchaeus shows himself to be someone in search of salvation. Zacchaeus, described as short in stature, climbs a tree in order to see Jesus. We know from Luke's description that Zacchaeus was no ordinary tax collector; he was, in fact, the chief tax collector and a person of some wealth. In his search for salvation, he humbled himself by making a spectacle of himself by climbing a tree.

Jesus recognizes the faith of this tax collector exhibited in his search for salvation and calls him down from the tree. In the hospitality he extends to Jesus and in his conversion of heart, Zacchaeus is raised up by Jesus as a model of salvation.

Gospel Reading
Luke 19:1-10
Jesus stays at the house of Zacchaeus, the tax collector.

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

Teach younger children that when we do wrong, we mend relationships not only by saying, “I am sorry” but also by changing our behavior, just as Zacchaeus promises to do in his encounter with Jesus.

Materials Needed

  • none

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: When we break a parent’s rule at home or hurt a friend’s feelings, we need to mend the harm we caused to our relationship. What can we say to mend the relationship with our parent or friend? (I’m sorry.) Ask: If a friend hurt your feelings, said sorry, and then did the same thing again, would the relationship be mended? (No.) Why not? (because they haven’t changed and shown they are truly sorry) Say: We change our behavior to show that we are truly sorry.
  2. Say: In today’s Gospel, we’ll hear what happened when a man named Zacchaeus met Jesus. The people in the crowd do not like Zaccheaus because he has taken money from many people. Let’s learn what Jesus says to him.
  3. Read aloud today’s Gospel, Luke 19:1–10.
  4. Ask: Does Zacchaeus say he is sorry or does he promise to change his behavior? (He promises to change his behavior.) Say: Zacchaeus promises he will give half of everything he has to the poor and repay people four times what he took from them. Jesus tells Zacchaeus that he has found salvation. Zacchaeus has changed his ways and mended his relationship with God. 
  5. Say: When we have sinned, we can be like Zacchaeus. We can turn back to God and promise to sin no more. 
  6. Conclude by praying the Act of Contrition or Prayer of the Penitent as children pray silently.

Gospel Reading
Luke 19:1-10
Jesus stays at the house of Zacchaeus, the tax collector.

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

In his encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus experiences a change of heart, a conversion, and receives the gift of reconciliation. Children of this age are developing enough of a conscience that they, too, can experience a change of heart and seek the gift of reconciliation with those they have wronged.

Materials Needed

  • A chart with two columns, one titled "The Story of Zacchaeus," the other titled "The Sacrament of Penance"

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: When someone does something wrong, how might he or she feel afterwards? What might one do to correct that wrong?

  2. Say: In today's Gospel, we hear the story of a tax collector who changed his ways after his encounter with Jesus. Let's listen carefully to the story. To understand what happens in this story, you need to know that in Jesus' time, tax collectors often cheated people by collecting more money from people than was required to pay the tax. Zacchaeus is described as a chief tax collector and a wealthy man, probably because he cheated many people.

  3. Ask a volunteer to read Luke 19:1-10. Ask the group: What did Zacchaeus have to do to see Jesus? (He climbed a tree.) When people grumbled that Jesus was staying in the house of a sinner, what did Zacchaeus do? (He promised to pay back, fourfold, the money he had wrongly taken from others.) How does Jesus respond to this promise? (He says that Zacchaeus has found salvation.)

  4. Ask: This story about Zacchaeus reminds me of a sacrament we celebrate in our Church. Which one? (Sacrament of Penance) What do we celebrate in the Sacrament of Penance?(We celebrate God's gift of forgiveness.)

  5. Make a chart for the group with two columns. On one side of the chart, write the heading "The Story of Zacchaeus"; on the other side, write the heading "The Sacrament of Penance." As a group, identify some of the ways in which the story of Zacchaeus is like the Sacrament of Penance. For example, Zacchaeus tells Jesus what he has done wrong and how he will act differently in the future; in the Sacrament of Penance, we too confess our sins and our desire to act differently in the future.

  6. To conclude the session, pray together the Act of Contrition.

Gospel Reading
Luke 19:1-10
Jesus stays at the house of Zacchaeus, the tax collector.

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age are learning to do many new things and in doing so make many mistakes. Because of this, they appreciate second chances. In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus gives Zacchaeus a second chance.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Arrange the young people in groups of three or four and have them come up with a list of what they consider to be the top five video games for people their age.

  2. When they are finished, invite them to share their list.

  3. Ask volunteers to share how often they play video games.

  4. Tell the young people that one of the reasons that young people enjoy playing video games is that they always get to try again.

  5. Talk about how frustrating it would be to purchase a video game that never allowed you to play again if you lost the first time.

  6. Explain that second chances encourage us to try harder to improve upon our previous attempts.

  7. Say: In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus offers another chance to someone who has done wrong.

  8. Invite volunteers to read aloud Luke 19:1-10.

  9. Ask: Why did people grumble about Jesus going to the house of Zacchaeus? (Zacchaeus was a tax collector.) What did Zacchaeus promise to do? (He promised to pay back fourfold the money he had wrongly taken from others.) Which sacrament offers us another chance to do the right thing? (Penance and Reconciliation)

  10. Explain that in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, God forgives our sins and gives us opportunities to improve upon our previous attempts to follow Jesus.

  11. Conclude by praying together the Act of Contrition.

Gospel Reading
Luke 19:1-10
Jesus stays at the house of Zacchaeus, the tax collector.

Family Connection

In today's Gospel, we see Jesus as a guest in the house of Zacchaeus. Talk about the various ways in which your family prepares when guests are expected in your home. Then read today's Gospel, Luke 19:1-10. Observe that Zacchaeus had not prepared to be Jesus' host that day. And yet, he welcomed Jesus better than anyone else because of his change of heart.

Discuss how your family might receive Jesus in your home and how you receive Jesus in the guests that you make welcome in your home. Pray together that your family will welcome guests into your home as you would welcome Jesus.