Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 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.


Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, February 9, 2020


This Sunday’s Readings


First Reading
Isaiah 58:7-10
In the work of justice, light shall break through darkness.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 112:4-9
The just person will be a light in the darkness.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Paul shows that he came to Corinth preaching Christ crucified.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus teaches that his disciples are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Following upon the teaching of the Beatitudes, Jesus uses the now familiar metaphors of salt and light to describe the life of discipleship. We take salt and light for granted in our society, but these commodities were more precious in ancient cultures. Just as now, salt was used in Jesus’ time for flavoring, as a preservative, and as a healing agent. Similarly, the widespread use of electricity in the modern world makes us less aware of the value and importance of light in our lives.

Still, our familiarity with this passage from Matthew’s Gospel speaks well to the abiding power of the imagery that Jesus presented. Jesus’ call to be salt for the earth and light for the world powerfully states our mission as Church and as Christians. Our commitment to social justice flows from the exhortation that Jesus gives us in today’s Gospel. Some of the activities that this commitment leads us to are given more concrete expression as the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. When we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, console those who mourn, and so on, we show ourselves to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. When we do these things with the community of faith, the Church, we are indeed acting as “a city set on a mountain” that cannot be hidden!


Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus teaches that his disciples are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.


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

As younger children grow, they become less self-focused and more capable of experiencing empathy and compassion. Support children in developing these important qualities by discussing our call as Christians to be the light of the world.

Materials Needed

  • two or more flashlights or other light sources, such as battery-operated candles; pictures of Christians helping others (for example, giving food or shelter or medical care); recorded version of “This Little Light of Mine” (optional)

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Dim the lights. Say: When we are in the darkness, we cannot see where we are going. We sometimes refer to difficult times as “dark” times. Give children flashlights or battery-operated candles and instruct them to turn them on. Ask children: Why do we need light? (Accept reasonable responses, such as, “It helps us see what we are doing and where we are going.”) In today’s Gospel, Jesus talks about light. Listen carefully to learn what he says. 
  2. Read today’s Gospel, Matthew 5:13–16.
  3. Say: Jesus says that we, his followers, are the light of the world. When we do good deeds, we glorify God and we show that we are the light. 
  4. Show the pictures. Say: We all go through hard times when we need some help. As Christians, we provide help to those in need. Invite children to name the different ways the Christians in the pictures are helping others and showing that they are the light of the world. 
  5. Say: We don’t have to be a grown-up to help others. What are some ways you can show you are the light of the world? (Accept reasonable responses, such as “Comfort a friend who is sad” or “Go with parents to visit a family member.”) Invite children to state one thing they will do this week to show that they are the light of the world. (Accept reasonable responses.)
  6. Pray together by singing “This Little Light of Mine.” Sing along to a recorded version if the children do not know the words.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus teaches that his disciples are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.


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

Jesus’ call to be salt for the earth and light for the world powerfully states our mission as Church and as Christians. Our commitment to and action for social justice flow from the exhortation that Jesus gives us in today’s Gospel.

Materials Needed

  • Copies of your parish bulletin from several weeks
  • Self-stick notes
  • Two large sheets of paper
  • One slip of paper per child

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Before the session, list the Corporal Works of Mercy on one of the large sheets of paper and the Spiritual Works of Mercy on the other sheet.

  2. Distribute copies of your parish bulletin and self-stick notes to each member of your group. Ask the children to use these bulletins to identify parish activities that make a difference in your community. Direct the group to write down summaries of these activities, one activity per self-stick note. Save these for use later.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today’s Gospel, Matthew 5:13-16.

  4. Ask: How do the parish activities you identified show your community to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  5. Say: Another way that the Church talks about caring for the world is to talk about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Show the group two posters, one listing the Corporal Works of Mercy, one listing the Spiritual Works of Mercy. Invite the children to place their self-stick notes on the poster that shows corresponding activities. A parish food drive, for example, would be posted on the Corporal Works of Mercy list. Bereavement counseling or a tutoring program would be posted on the Spiritual Works of Mercy list. Invite the children to note any activities that fall under both Works of Mercy.

  6. Say: When individual Christians and entire communities engage in tasks such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, comforting those who mourn, etc., we show that we act as the light of the world and the salt of the earth as Jesus taught us.

  7. Give each child a slip of paper and say: Identify at least one Corporal or Spiritual Work of Mercy that you will do this week. Ask each child to write down this Work of Mercy as a sign of his or her commitment to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world.

  8. To conclude, invite the children to place their slips of paper in a basket in the center of the prayer space. Pray together by singing “This Little Light of Mine” or pray today’s psalm.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus teaches that his disciples are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people are always in need of affirmation. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus affirms us by saying that we are salt and light. However, we are called to live up to this affirmation through our deeds.

Materials Needed

  • Slips of paper
  • Posters of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask volunteers to explain the following phrases: “Talk is cheap,” “Walk the talk,” and “Actions speak louder than words.”

  2. Explain that each of these sayings refers to the importance of backing up our words with actions.

  3. Write on the board the following saying: “To know but not to do is not yet to know.”

  4. Explain that this is an ancient Chinese proverb that expresses the same message as the previously mentioned phrases.

  5. Tell the young people that in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus emphasizes the importance of our actions.

  6. Invite a volunteer to read Matthew 5:13-16.

  7. Say: Another way that the Church talks about being salt and light is to talk about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

  8. Show the group two posters, one listing the Corporal Works of Mercy and the other listing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

  9. Say: When individual Christians and entire communities engage in tasks such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, and comforting those who mourn, we show that we act as the light of the world and the salt of the earth, as Jesus taught us.

  10. Give each young person a slip of paper and say: Identify at least one Corporal or Spiritual Work of Mercy that you will do this week.

  11. Ask each young person to write down this work of mercy as a sign of his or her commitment to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

  12. To conclude, invite the young people to place their slips of paper in a basket in the center of the prayer space. Pray together today’s psalm.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus teaches that his disciples are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.


Family Connection

The widespread use of electricity in our society may make us less aware of the value and importance of light. To re-engage with the power of the metaphor that Jesus offers, gather your family in a darkened room. Bring only one flashlight.

Sit together for a minute and consider what you are able to do and see in so little light. You might try opening the Bible to see whether you can read today’s Gospel. Turn on the flashlight and experiment to see how one might use it to achieve the greatest amount of light. Then read today’s Gospel by the light of the flashlight. Ask everyone to consider what it means to say that Christians are to be the light of the world. How might your family act in a way that is a light for others, a light that is worthy to put on a lamp stand? Choose one thing that your family will do this week to show that you are the light of the world. You might choose to participate in an activity that your parish sponsors, such as help with a food pantry. Pray together by singing “This Little Light of Mine.”