Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, C Sunday Connection

Looking to purchase for your parish or school? Contact your Consultant or Customer Service.

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.


Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Sunday, February 3, 2019


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19
The Lord assures Jeremiah that he will deliver him from all who fight against him.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 71:1-2,3-4,5-6,15,17
A song in praise of God's salvation

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 12:31—13:13 (shorter form, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13)
Paul describes love as the greatest of virtues.

Gospel Reading
Luke 4:21-30
Jesus is rejected in his hometown of Nazareth.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday we read from the Gospel of Luke, continuing immediately from last week's Gospel. Recall that in last Sunday's Gospel, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah and announced that this Scripture was now fulfilled. In today's Gospel, we learn that the people of Nazareth are impressed by Jesus' words, and yet they seem surprised. They still think of Jesus as merely Joseph's son. They do not expect such words from someone they believe that they know.

This Gospel is about who Jesus is and who people believe him to be. The story of Jesus' preaching and rejection at Nazareth is found in each of the Synoptic Gospels. In Luke's Gospel, this incident is told in a way that foretells Jesus' passion and death and helps explain the inclusion of the Gentiles in the promise of salvation. In Luke's Gospel this incident appears at the beginning of Jesus' ministry; in Matthew and Mark, this event is placed considerably later, after Jesus has preached and taught elsewhere. Only Luke identifies the content of Jesus' teaching in any detail, telling us that Jesus read from the book of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue. In Mark and Matthew's Gospels, Jesus teaches in the synagogue in Nazareth, and the townspeople take offense because Jesus is only the son of a carpenter. They reject his authority to teach them. In Matthew and Mark, it is only after Jesus is rejected that he observes times when Israel has rejected prophets.

In Luke's Gospel, the people are surprised but not immediately offended by Jesus' words in the synagogue. It is the words that follow his reading from the prophet Isaiah that seem to offend them. Jesus challenges and provokes the people of Nazareth by referring to examples in which Israel rejected the prophets. He also challenges them to respond to his message, the message of a prophet, in a way that is different from their ancestors. This call for a new response leads to his rejection.

It is helpful to consider the historical context of Luke's Gospel. Luke has witnessed the acceptance of the gospel message among many Gentiles. He endeavors to explain why the Good News of Jesus has not been as well-received by his Jewish contemporaries. Luke's report interprets the cause of Jesus' rejection at Nazareth in the context of this later Christian history. Just as the people at Nazareth did not welcome the Good News that Jesus announced, so too many among the people of Israel will not accept the preaching of the gospel.

After Jesus' words of challenge, Luke reports that there was a movement to kill Jesus by throwing him over a cliff. This differs from the reports found in Mark and Matthew's Gospels, where Jesus is said to be unable to perform miracles in Nazareth because of the people's lack of faith. Luke says that Jesus walks away from the crowd that intended to kill him; it is not yet his time. The animosity of the people of Nazareth prefigures and prepares the reader of Luke's Gospel for the cross. Luke wants all to understand that it is through his death on the cross that Jesus offers God's salvation to all.


Gospel Reading
Luke 4:21-30
Jesus is rejected in his hometown of Nazareth.


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

Younger children depend on the adults who care for them to guide them as they grow and learn. Teach them that Jesus is our greatest teacher, who shows us how to live as God wants us to live.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Have children stand up and follow you as you walk in a circle. Say: Now let’s pretend we didn’t get enough sleep. Keep walking, but slow down, yawn, and mimic being tired and grouchy.
  2. Say: Sometimes our parents might ask us to do things that are hard or that we don’t want to do. They might tell us it’s time for bed. We might not want to go to bed on time, but if we stay up too late, we’ll be tired and grumpy the next day! The people who take care of us love us and want what is best for us. They teach us how to be happy and healthy.
  3. Say: Jesus is our greatest teacher. He teaches us how to live the way God wants us to live. We listen to him and learn from him. Let’s hear what Jesus told the people in Nazareth.
  4. Read aloud today’s Gospel, Luke 4:21–30.
  5. Ask: Did the people in Nazareth listen to and learn from Jesus? (No.) At first, they liked what Jesus had to say. Then Jesus challenged them to do something hard. They didn’t like that! They got mad. But Jesus’ words are true. We can trust them. What are some things Jesus teaches us to do? (Accept all reasonable responses, such as love God, love people, be kind, share, pray.)
  6. Pray together: “Jesus, thank you for teaching us how to live. We will follow you!”


Gospel Reading
Luke 4:21-30
Jesus is rejected in his hometown of Nazareth.


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

Older children are just beginning to discriminate between the messages that they hear from others. We can teach them to rely upon the message of Jesus and to live their lives by his Word.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Observe that the same statement can sound different to us depending on who is speaking. Say: Sometimes we are more likely to listen to an outside expert than we are to a person who knows us well. For example, we might be more likely to follow our coach's suggestion about soccer than a suggestion from our parents. Why? (We might think that our coach knows more about soccer.) Can you think of any other examples? (Allow volunteers to share examples.)

  2. Introduce today's Gospel: Jesus said some challenging words to the people in his hometown of Nazareth. Let's see how they received his words.

  3. Read aloud today's Gospel, Luke 4:21-30.

  4. Ask: What was the first response of the people of Nazareth to Jesus' words? (Their first response was favorable. They spoke highly of Jesus, and they were amazed. They also discussed Jesus' identity.) What do they want to do to Jesus at the end of the Gospel? (drive him out of town; kill him) What happened in between? (Jesus challenged them to respond to him differently than their ancestors responded to the prophets)

  5. Observe that the people who knew Jesus best did not accept his words to them; they were not persuaded by him. Ask: Why not? (He challenged them to act in a different way.) Say: Jesus spoke challenging words to the people of Nazareth. He wanted them to respond to him differently from the ways others had responded to the prophets. But they wouldn't let his words lead them to change, or even to see a different perspective.

  6. Say: Sometimes we can be like the people of Nazareth; we don't want to trust Jesus' message because we find his words challenging. We don't want to do what he says. But we can trust his words to us and can rely on his guidance in our lives.

  7. Encourage the children to pray for guidance when deciding how to act. Conclude in prayer together by praying the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.


Gospel Reading
Luke 4:21-30
Jesus is rejected in his hometown of Nazareth.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people rely on the guidance of others to help them make appropriate decisions. Today's Gospel challenges them to consider the message of Jesus—spoken to them through the Gospel and the Church—in their decision-making process.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Discuss the various kinds of guidance a student might seek when making a decision such as what elective to take at school this year. Ask the students to role-play the following conversations: A) A conversation with someone who has experience in the area that the decision is about. If the decision is about what elective to take, then the conversation could be with someone who has already taken that class. B) A conversation with someone who is an expert in the area that the decision is about. If the decision is about what elective to take, for example, then the conversation could be with a guidance counselor. What might an expert advise about this decision? C) A conversation with someone we trust, such as a parent. What would someone we trust say? Discuss these different kinds of authority and how each might influence our decision making. Ask: Which kinds of authority are likely to have the greatest influence on our decisions?

  2. Say: Today's Gospel describes what Jesus said to the people of his home town of Nazareth and their response. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel and consider Jesus' influence on the people of Nazareth.

  3. Ask a volunteer to read aloud today's Gospel, Luke 4:21-30.

  4. Ask: What was the first response of the people of Nazareth to Jesus' words? (Their first response was favorable. They spoke highly of Jesus, and they were amazed. They also discussed Jesus' identity.) What do they want to do to Jesus at the end of the Gospel? (drive him out of town; kill him) What happened in between? (Jesus spoke challenging words to them.)

  5. Observe that the people who knew Jesus best did not accept his words to them; they were not persuaded by him. Ask: Why not? (He challenged them to act in a different way.) Say: Jesus spoke challenging words to the people of Nazareth. He wanted them to respond to him differently from the ways others had responded to the prophets. But they wouldn't let his words lead them to change, or even to see a different perspective.

  6. Ask: Sometimes the words we hear in the Gospel or from the Church challenge us to have a different perspective. These words should influence our decision making. In what ways should our decisions be influenced by what we hear from the Gospel and from the Church? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  7. Say: In the Gospel and through the teaching of the Church, we hear the words of Jesus. We can trust these words because they are the voice of experience, an expert's words, and the words of a trusted friend. We pray that we will allow these words to influence us and to change us.

  8. Encourage the young people to pray for guidance when making decisions. Conclude in prayer together by praying the Holy Spirit Prayer of Saint Augustine.


Gospel Reading
Luke 4:21-30
Jesus is rejected in his hometown of Nazareth.


Family Connection

Jesus' statement that no prophet is accepted in his home town reminds us that it is often difficult to hear a challenging message from those who know us best, even if it is true. Perhaps we remember and even regret this aspect of our childhood and adolescence. We may have overlooked the wisdom and guidance of our parents, while allowing the voices of others—teachers, friends, and counselors—to carry more weight, even when these people were telling us the same thing. Perhaps this developmental stage is unavoidable. Perhaps as we have matured, we have come to a new appreciation for our parents and others whose perspective and experience we once rejected. Today's Gospel provides an opportunity to talk about and to learn from such experiences.

As you gather as a family, consider proverbs or other wise sayings that are familiar to your family (“Blood is thicker than water;” “All that glitters is not gold.”). Consider what these proverbs mean and whether you believe them to be true. Why or why not? Jesus challenges the people of Nazareth by reminding them of old sayings that seem to have a lot of truth in them. Let's listen to this Gospel and consider what these proverbs mean. Read aloud today's Gospel, Luke 4:21-30. Ask: What were the proverbs that Jesus quoted? (Physician, cure yourself; No prophet is accepted in his native place.) Consider the meaning of these proverbs and look for examples from your own family life that show their truth. Consider how your family might accept one another's wisdom and guidance and not reject the prophets in your midst. Conclude by praying together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.