Holy Family of Jesus Mary & Joseph C Sunday Connect

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 Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Cycle C

Sunday, December 30, 2018


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28 (The first reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Sirach 3:2-6,12-14.)
Hannah dedicates her son, Samuel, to the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 84:2-3,5-6,9-10 (The psalm from Cycle A may also be chosen, Psalm 128:1-5.)
Those who dwell in the Lord's house are happy.

Second Reading
1 John 3:1-2,21-24 (The second reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Colossians 3:12-21)
We are God's children now.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:41-52
The boy Jesus is found in the Temple.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. This feast is part of the Christmas season, and we should place today's Gospel in the context of what Luke's Gospel tells us about the birth of Jesus. Luke has been answering the question “Who is Jesus?” through his stories of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus. Today's Gospel reading continues this theme. It has no parallel in the other Gospels and is the conclusion of Luke's Infancy Narrative.

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are presented in this Gospel as a faithful Jewish family. They are participating in the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, an event shared each year with family and friends. When Jesus is found, Luke describes him as seated in the Temple in the midst of the Jewish teachers. Although he is young, Jesus seems not to need teaching about his Jewish tradition. In his dialogue with these learned teachers, Jesus astounds them with his insight and understanding. Jesus is a child of Israel. His Father is God.

The dialogue between Mary and Jesus contains many references to family relationships. In fact, in this Gospel reading Mary and Joseph are never identified by name. Instead they are referred to by their relationship to Jesus. Ultimately, this emphasizes Luke's point about the identity of Jesus. When Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple, they question Jesus and express their anxiety. Jesus replies in words that many have thought to be disrespectful. Jesus says that he was never lost; he was at home. Jesus is God's Son, and he is in his Father's house. Luke will continue to suggest that faith in Jesus establishes new family relationships as he describes Jesus' public ministry.

In Luke's Gospel, Mary's importance is even greater than her role as Jesus' mother. Mary is the first disciple and will be present with Jesus' disciples after his Resurrection at Pentecost.


Gospel Reading
Luke 2:41-52
The boy Jesus is found in the Temple.


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

Younger children generally want to please adults, but they may still need support in following family rules. Help children understand the importance of obeying their parents and other adults who care for them by pointing out that as a child, Jesus honored and obeyed his family. 

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Share a family rule with the children, such as “In my family, we all take turns setting the table.” Ask: What is a rule in your family? As children answer, help them identify why the rule is important to follow (for example, to stay safe, to be polite or kind, to be helpful, to get plenty of rest). Say: Today we’ll read about the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We normally think about Jesus as a baby or as an adult, but in today’s Gospel, Jesus was 12 years old. He went to the Temple with Mary and Joseph. Listen closely to learn what happened.
  2. Read today’s Gospel, Luke 2:41–52.
  3. Say: Jesus is God’s Son, but he was still a child. He needed Mary and Joseph to be safe. He needed to obey them. Sometimes we may not want to obey our family’s rules. We can remember that Jesus obeyed his parents. We can ask him to help us.
  4. Close in prayer by asking Jesus to help us be children who respect and obey our parents and follow their rules. Pray together the Sign of the Cross.


Gospel Reading
Luke 2:41-52
The boy Jesus is found in the Temple.


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

Older children are learning that they have an important role to play in helping make their families strong. We can encourage them to continue to show respect and honor to their parents by following the example of Jesus and asking for Jesus' help in prayer.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: Today we are going to learn our Sunday Gospel through skits. One group will help us by acting out our Gospel reading. The second group will help us understand what our Gospel means for us today. Divide into two groups for the two skits.

  2. Invite the first group to come to the front and assign children to the roles of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, family and friends in the caravan, and teachers in the Temple. Invite this group to act out today's Gospel, Luke 2:41-52, as you read it aloud. Allow time for the children to act out their roles and to improvise the conversations that might have taken place. When finished, thank the children who participated in the skit and ask them to return to their seats.

  3. Say: This Gospel reminds us how important it is that we respect and obey our parents. Jesus respected and obeyed his parents when he returned with them to Jerusalem. This helped make his family strong. When we obey our parents and show our love for them, we help make our families strong.

  4. Say: Think about some situations in which we need to show honor and respect to our parents. I will ask members of the second group to act out these situations so that we learn better what it means to respect our parents. Invite volunteers to identify situations—a parent asks a child to set the dinner table, a parent tells the children that it is time to clean up their toys, and so on—and assign members of the second group to role-play these situations.

  5. Ask: Is it always easy to remember to honor and obey our parents? (Sometimes it can be difficult.) When we find it difficult to honor and obey our parents, we can remember that Jesus showed his parents honor and respect, and we can ask Jesus to help us.

  6. Conclude in prayer together asking God to strengthen our families and to help us be children who respect and obey our parents. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Luke 2:41-52
The boy Jesus is found in the Temple.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

An adolescent's growing desire for autonomy and independence sometimes leads to conflict with parents. We can help young people understand that they can disagree with their parents while remaining respectful and obedient to them.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people to think about a time when they were denied permission to do something by their parents. Invite volunteers to share these experiences: What did they ask to do? How did they ask? Why was permission denied? How did they respond?

  2. Say: Situations such as these are common in young people's lives. Your desire for independence has the potential to create conflicts between you and your parents. God wants us to respect and honor our parents by obeying them, even when we disagree with their decisions.

  3. Say: In today's Gospel we hear about a situation of anxiety and even conflict in the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Let's listen to this Gospel to learn how we might handle disagreements in our own families.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Luke 2:41-52.

  5. Ask: What did Mary and Joseph do when they discovered that Jesus was not with them as they were returning from Jerusalem? (Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem to look for Jesus.) What happened when they found Jesus? (There was a misunderstanding between Jesus and Mary.) What did Jesus do? (He returned to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph and remained obedient to them.)

  6. Ask: What might we learn from the example of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph about how to handle misunderstandings and disagreements with our parents? (Accept all reasonable answers.) When we find it difficult to honor and obey our parents, we can remember that Jesus showed his parents honor and respect, and we can ask Jesus to help us do the same.

  7. Conclude in prayer together asking God to help us respect and honor our parents, especially at those times when we disagree with them. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Luke 2:41-52
The boy Jesus is found in the Temple.


Family Connection

Today's Gospel describes a time of anxiety in the life of Jesus' family. We can imagine their panic and worry as they discovered that Jesus was not with the caravan returning to Nazareth. The Holy Family journeyed with family members and friends because traveling alone was dangerous. When they found Jesus at the Temple, Jesus spoke like a typical adolescent, unsympathetic to his parents' concern. Yet his words teach an important lesson about reducing anxiety in our family life. In essence, Jesus says, “If you had remembered who I am, you would have known where to find me.” In their panic, Mary and Joseph had forgotten what had been told to them before Jesus' birth, that their son was the Son of God. Knowing a person well helps reduce our anxieties for them because we can better predict how they will behave, and we know their capacity to handle the challenges life might present to them.

As you gather as a family, have fun playing the game “How well do you know me?” Take turns trying to stump one another by asking family members questions about yourself, such as “What is my favorite memory of a family vacation?” “Given a choice, what dinner menu would I pick?” “If I could travel anywhere in the world, where would I go?” One member of the family might prepare and read the questions aloud as each person writes down the answers. Family members then take turns guessing the answers, playing this game as a quiz show. Observe that one thing about families is that we learn to know each other well.