Baptism of the Lord, Cycle C 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 C

Sunday, January 13, 2019


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11 (The first reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7.)
Isaiah tells the people to prepare a way for the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 104:1b-4,24-25,27-30 (The psalm from Cycle A may also be chosen, Psalm 29:1-2,3-4,9-10.)
A prayer praising God's greatness

Second Reading
Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7 (The second reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Acts of the Apostles 10:34-38.)
Jesus Christ saved us and renewed us with his Holy Spirit.

Gospel Reading
Luke 3:15-16,21-22
Jesus is baptized by John.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In today's Gospel, as in the other Gospel accounts of Jesus' baptism, we hear John the Baptist address the confusion of the people who thought that John might be the Messiah. In response, John contrasts the baptism that he performs with the Baptism that Jesus will inaugurate. John the Baptist says that he has baptized with water, but that someone will come and baptize with the Holy Spirit. The type of baptism that John performed was not yet a Christian Baptism; it was a preparation for Christian Baptism through which sins are forgiven and the gift of the Holy Spirit is received.

The baptism of Jesus is reported in each of the three Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Clearly, it was an event of great significance for Jesus and for the early Christian community. The Evangelists Mark and Luke report the story from Jesus' perspective; the voice from heaven is addressed to Jesus. Compare this to Matthew's Gospel in which the voice from heaven speaks to everyone. In Luke, however, the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus during his time of prayer after his baptism. Through his Gospel, Luke will show Jesus to be a person of prayer who withdraws regularly from the crowds and his disciples to pray to his Father.

The baptism of Jesus is considered a manifestation of God in Jesus, another “epiphany.” On this, the last day of the Christmas season, our Gospel reveals to us Jesus' relation to God: the son of Mary and Joseph is also God's own Son. In Luke's Gospel, all three members of the Trinity are manifested here: God the Father in the voice, the Holy Spirit descending, and Jesus the Son. At the beginning of his Gospel, Luke is communicating to us important information about the identity of Jesus. In the verses that follow, Luke lists the genealogy of Jesus, tracing Jesus' ancestry back to the first person, Adam, who is also identified as the son of God. We, the children of Adam and Eve, are again made children of God through Baptism.


Gospel Reading
Luke 3:15-16,21-22
Jesus is baptized by John.


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

Help younger children understand that in addition to being members of their families, they become members of the family of God, through the Sacrament of Baptism.

Materials Needed

  • A photograph of a child at his or her Baptism

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: How many of you have been to a Baptism? What can you share about what happens at this sacrament? (Accept reasonable responses, including the child is dressed in white, the priest anoints the child with holy oil and baptizes the child with holy water, the godparents hold a candle.) Say: Baptism is a gift from God. We are baptized in Jesus’ name, and our sins are forgiven. Today we will hear what happened when John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
  2. Read today’s Gospel, Luke 3:15–16,21–22.
  3. Say: After Jesus was baptized, he prayed and the Holy Spirit came to him. The Holy Spirit comes to us in Baptism. We become members of God’s family. God is our Father. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. As members of God’s family, we take care of one another and welcome new members.
  4. Show the picture of the newly baptized child. Say: This baby has just been baptized. We are going to pass the picture around. If you wish, when you receive the picture, tell us something you would say to welcome the child into God’s family or to tell the child about God. Say something to welcome the child and then have children pass the picture until each child has had a turn.
  5. Conclude by thanking God for the gift of Baptism and for making us members of his family. Pray the Sign of the Cross.


Gospel Reading
Luke 3:15-16,21-22
Jesus is baptized by John.


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

At his baptism, we learn that Jesus is God's own Son. Through our Baptism in Jesus' name, we are made children of God. Through our prayer, we learn what this means for our lives.

Materials Needed

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

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Put a bowl filled with holy water and a Bible, open to today's Gospel, on the table in the prayer space.

  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 bowl is holy water. Ask what sacrament the bowl of holy water brings to mind. (Baptism)

  3. Say: Today concludes the Christmas season. In our Scripture for today, we hear John the Baptist announce the Messiah, Jesus. We also hear the remarkable event that happened when Jesus was baptized by John. Let's listen to today's Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Luke 3:15-16,21-22.

  5. Ask: What does John say about the type of baptism that he performs and the type of baptism that the one who is to come will perform? (John says that his baptism is with water, but that the Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.) What does the Gospel reading tell us that Jesus did after his baptism? (Jesus prayed.) What happened while Jesus was at prayer? (The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, and a voice told Jesus that he was God's own Son.)

  6. Say: When we were baptized in Jesus' name, our sins were forgiven, we received the Holy Spirit, and we became children of God. Through our Baptism, the Holy Spirit helps us pray so that we may learn what it means to be a child of God.

  7. Ask: Knowing that we are children of God, what difference should this make in our lives? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  8. Conclude by praying together that we will always be faithful to our identity as children of God. Invite each child to remind himself or herself that he or she is a child of God by blessing himself or herself with the holy water. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Luke 3:15-16,21-22
Jesus is baptized by John.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

At his baptism, we learn that Jesus is God's own Son. Through our Baptism in Jesus' name, we are made children of God. Through our prayer, we learn what it means to be named “children of God.”

Materials Needed

  • Paper
  • Pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Using yourself as an example, identify some of the many ways in which people can be named—child of the Smith family, daughter of Sarah and Sam, sister to Sally, and so on. Distribute paper and pencils to the young people and challenge them to identify different ways to name themselves.

  2. Say: Just as we have many ways in which we might be named and identified, Jesus also was identified in many different ways. Let's see how many different ways we can name Jesus. Together prepare a list of ways to name Jesus—Son of Mary, foster child of Joseph, the carpenter, the Christ, the Messiah, Son of God, and so on.

  3. Say: In today's Gospel, we hear the name that Jesus was given by the voice from heaven after his baptism. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Luke 3:15-16,21-22.

  5. Ask: What did the voice from heaven name Jesus? (God's beloved Son) What was Jesus doing when this voice was heard? (praying after his baptism)

  6. Say: When we were baptized in Jesus' name, we were called by our baptismal name, and each of us was also named a “child of God.” These names ought to be included on your list of names for yourself: “brother or sister of Jesus” and “child of God.” Just as Jesus learned what this meant in his life through prayer, so our prayer helps us learn what it means to be a child of God.

  7. Conclude by praying together that we will learn through our prayer how to be faithful to our identity as children of God. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Luke 3:15-16,21-22
Jesus is baptized by John.


Family Connection

Every family has a unique identity that is defined by the behaviors, attitudes, and expectations that govern a family's daily life. This identity is influenced by the family history of the parents, but each family's expression of this history is unique. In today's Gospel, we learn that Jesus' behavior, attitudes, and expectations were governed by his identity as God's beloved Son. In our Baptism, we were made children of this same heavenly Father. This identity as members of the family of God, and as brothers and sisters of Jesus, also shapes our family's daily life.

As you gather as a family, identify some of the expectations and behaviors that govern your family life by answering the question, “What are some of the things that make our family life unique?” Celebrate these things about your family life. Read today's Gospel, Luke 3:15-16,21-22. Observe that Jesus' identity as the Beloved Son of the Father governed his behaviors, attitudes, and expectations. Recall that at our Baptism we were made children of this same heavenly Father. How does this identity as a member of the family of God govern and shape our family life? Conclude in prayer together that we will remain faithful to our baptismal identity as children of God and as brothers or sisters of Jesus. Conclude by praying together the Lord's Prayer.