Baptism of the Lord, Cycle A 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.


The Baptism of the Lord, Cycle A

Monday, January 9, 2017


This Sunday’s Readings


First Reading
Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7
The servant of the Lord shall bring justice to all.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 29:1-2,3-4,9-10
The Lord will give peace to the people.

Second Reading
Acts of the Apostles 10:34-38
God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 3:13-17
The Spirit of God comes upon Jesus as he is baptized by John.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The baptism of Jesus is attested to in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The account that appears in Matthew is the only one to include the dialogue between Jesus and John, however. Another difference in Matthew’s presentation of this event is the announcement made by the voice from heaven, which says, “This is my beloved son . . .” In Mark and Luke, this voice addresses itself to Jesus: “You are my beloved son . . .”

The baptisms that John performs prefigure Christian Baptism. John baptizes for repentance from sin. In accepting this baptism, Jesus unites himself with all sinners even though he is sinless. In Matthew’s Gospel, John the Baptist distinguishes his practice of baptism from the Baptism that the Messiah brings: “I am baptizing you with water . . . He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).

The baptism of Jesus is another manifestation of Christ, another epiphany. Christ’s baptism inaugurates his mission. In an analogous way, our Baptism inaugurates our mission as Christians.

This Sunday marks a transition from the Christmas season to Ordinary Time. In a way, today’s feast is the high point of the Christmas season. Before Jesus’ birth, angels announced to Mary and to Joseph who Jesus would be. At his birth, the shepherds and the Magi recognize Jesus as the Messiah. At his baptism, Jesus accepts that he is God’s son and inaugurates that mission.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 3:13-17
The Spirit of God comes upon Jesus as he is baptized by John.


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

When John baptized Jesus, the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove, and God the Father confirmed that Jesus is his Son, the Messiah. In Jesus, we are all God’s children.

Materials Needed

  • A certificate for each child that says You are following my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you. Sign the certificates God.
  • Examples of awards that people might receive, such as trophies, ribbons, medals of honor, and certificates

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. In advance of class, make up a certificate for each child that says You are following my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you. Sign the certificates God.

  2. Bring to class any awards you can collect such as trophies, ribbons, medals of honor, and certificates. If there is a trophy case near your meeting place, you may wish to take the children to see it. Show these awards to the children and discuss how the awards were earned and how the giver and receiver of each award probably felt.

  3. Discuss times the children may not have received a physical award but felt proud of an accomplishment because of words of praise. Then say: The Gospel this week tells of a time God praised Jesus.

  4. Read the Gospel of Matthew 3:13-17. Then give each child a certificate. Remind the children that they please God by following Jesus.

  5. Pray that we will always please God by following Jesus and then pray together the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 3:13-17
The Spirit of God comes upon Jesus as he is baptized by John.


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

In Jesus’ baptism, he is called God’s own Son. Through our Baptism in Jesus’ name, we are made children of God. As Jesus’ baptism marked the beginning of his public ministry, our Baptism marks the beginning of our mission as Christians.

Materials Needed

  • A bowl with holy water to be placed on the prayer table

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Prepare a prayer space and include on it a bowl with holy water and the Bible open to today’s Gospel.

  2. As you begin, invite the children to notice the prayer space that you have prepared. Ask them what they see there. Point out that the water in the dish is holy water. Ask what sacrament the dish of holy water brings to mind. (Baptism)

  3. Say: Today the Christmas season ends. Our Scripture for today takes us beyond the childhood of Jesus to his baptism by John the Baptist. Let’s listen to today’s Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read today’s Gospel, Matthew 3:13-17.

  5. Ask: What do you think the conversation between John the Baptist and Jesus means? (Accept all reasonable answers but be sure to note that Jesus, who never sinned, allowed John to baptize him even though John baptized people who were sinners.) Why do you think it is important that Jesus was baptized by John? (Again, accept all reasonable answers but be sure to note that by accepting baptism, Jesus showed himself to be united with all sinners.) What happened after Jesus’ baptism? (The heavens opened, the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus, and a voice from heaven spoke.)

  6. Say: When Jesus accepted baptism by John, God showed that he was pleased, and a voice announced that Jesus was God’s own Son. When we were baptized in Jesus’ name, our sins were forgiven and we received the Holy Spirit and were made children of God. After Jesus’ baptism, he began his public ministry. After our Baptism, we are to live the life of a Christian by loving God and all people as Jesus did.

  7. Ask: What are some of the things that we are called to do as baptized Christians? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  8. Conclude by praying together that we will always be faithful to our baptismal promises to be disciples of Jesus. Invite the children to recommit themselves to the promises made at Baptism by having each child bless himself or herself with the holy water. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 3:13-17
The Spirit of God comes upon Jesus as he is baptized by John.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age strive to be part of the group. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus shows that he is “part of the group” by entering the waters of the Jordan for a baptism of repentance from sin, even though he was sinless.

Materials Needed

  • A bowl of holy water

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people if any of them have siblings who are infants or toddlers.

  2. Invite these young people to describe the types of toys their younger siblings play with. (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Say: Little children like to play on the floor with their toys. When they invite us to play with them, we usually get down on the floor so that we can interact with them on their level. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we learn that Jesus did something to show that he was interacting with us at our level.

  4. Invite a volunteer to read aloud Matthew 3:13-17.

  5. Ask: Why did John the Baptist baptize people? (to grant them repentance from sin) Jesus was without sin, yet he entered the waters of the Jordan River to show that he is one with us. Jesus came to be with us at our level; he entered into the world of sin in order to transform it from within. As we bring the Christmas season to a close, we celebrate the fact that Jesus is one with us and that he invites us, through our Baptism, to share in his ministry of forgiveness of sins.

  6. Conclude by praying together that we will always be faithful to our baptismal promises to be disciples of Jesus. Invite the young people to recommit themselves to the promises made at Baptism by having each person bless himself or herself with holy water. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 3:13-17
The Spirit of God comes upon Jesus as he is baptized by John.


Family Connection

At Jesus’ baptism, God affirms his Son’s mission for salvation. God announces his pleasure with Jesus and, in Matthew’s Gospel, announces to all that, “This is my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17). With this affirmation, Jesus is able to resist the temptations described next in Matthew’s Gospel and to begin his public ministry. As family members, we can support one another in our Christian living by affirming the importance of each person in our eyes and in God’s. Confident that through our Baptism we too were made children of God, we can resist temptation and share in Christ’s mission.

Gather as a family to read today’s Gospel, Matthew 3:13-17. Recall that God’s message about Jesus was meant for us, “This is my beloved Son.” It was also an affirmation for Jesus about his role in God’s plan.

Place each family member’s name on a slip of paper and put the names in a bowl. Invite each person in the family to choose another family member’s name and to prepare a message for that person, affirming their importance in God’s eyes and in your family life. Pray together that your family will continue to support one another in your baptismal promises to be disciples of Jesus and then invite each person to read aloud the message they prepared. Conclude by praying together the Lord’s Prayer.