Pentecost Sunday, 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.


Pentecost Sunday, Cycle C

Sunday, June 9, 2019


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11
The Holy Spirit descends upon the Apostles gathered in Jerusalem.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 104:1,24,29-31,34
God's Spirit renews the earth.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 12:3b-7,12-13 or Romans 8:8-17
We are all one in Christ Jesus.

Gospel Reading
John 20:19-23
Jesus appears to his disciples and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The season of Easter concludes with today's celebration, the feast of Pentecost. On Pentecost we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem; this event marks the beginning of the Church. The story of Pentecost is found in the Acts of the Apostles, today's first reading. The account in today's Gospel, taken from the Gospel of John, also recounts how Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. There is no need to try to reconcile these two accounts to each other. It is enough to know that, after his death, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send to his disciples a helper, an advocate, who would enable them to be his witnesses throughout the world.

We previously heard today's Gospel on the second Sunday of Easter. At that time, we also heard the passage that follows, which describes Jesus' appearance to Thomas. In that context, we were led to reflect on belief and unbelief.

In the context of the feast of Pentecost, this reading reminds us about the integral connection between the gifts of peace and forgiveness and the action of the Holy Spirit. Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace. Jesus then commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” As he breathes the Holy Spirit upon them, Jesus sends his disciples to continue his work of reconciliation through the forgiveness of sins.

This Gospel reminds us that the Church is called to be a reconciling presence in the world. This reconciling presence of Christ is celebrated in the Church's sacramental life. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we are washed clean from sin and become a new creation in Christ. In the Sacrament of Penance, the Church celebrates the mercy of God in forgiving sins. This reconciling presence is also to be a way of life for Christians. In situations of conflict, we are to be agents of peace and harmony among people.


Gospel Reading
John 20:19-23
Jesus appears to his disciples and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.


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

Younger children are learning how to be a good friend to others. As Christians, we are called to be agents of peace and forgiveness. We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us. 

Materials Needed

  • Hearts of different sizes, cut out of various colors of posterboard or paper; tape
    On each heart, write an action we can take to be a peacemaker, such as forgive, say sorry, welcome, be kind, understand. Cut the hearts in half for children to match.

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Give half a heart to each child. Have children walk around to find the child who has the other half. Help children tape the halves together. Say: As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers. We can be peacemakers by taking care of relationships, just as we took care of the hearts by putting them back together. 
  2. Say: On each heart is written a way we can be peacemakers with our friends and family. Take turns telling us what your heart says. (Help younger children as needed.) Discuss how each action helps make a relationship more peaceful.
  3. Say: The risen Jesus greeted his disciples with words of peace. Let’s listen.
  4. Read today’s Gospel, John 20:19–23.
  5. Ask: What words of peace did Jesus use to greet the disciples? (“Peace be with you.”) Say: Jesus gave the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit to help them spread his message of peace and forgiveness. We can pray to the Holy Spirit to help and guide us. Let’s do that now.
  6. Pray to the Holy Spirit that we will be peacemakers in all our relationships. 


Gospel Reading
John 20:19-23
Jesus appears to his disciples and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.


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

Young people are aware of, sensitive to, and sometimes even a part of situations of conflict. As we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, our Gospel reminds us that this same Holy Spirit helps us to be agents of God's peace and forgiveness in the world.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the group to name some situations in which greater peace is needed. These situations could be world or national current events, historical events, or things from school or family life.

  2. Invite the group to choose one of the situations named. For this situation, help the group to identify some of the issues involved in this conflict. Ask questions such as, Why is peace lacking in this situation? What are some of the issues being contested? What would it take to restore peace in this situation?

  3. Say: When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his Resurrection from the dead, his first words to them were a greeting of peace. This was welcome news to the disciples. Let's listen to today's Gospel to find out why this was such welcome news to the disciples.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, John 20:19-23.

  5. Ask: Why might Jesus' greeting of peace have been so welcome to his disciples? (They were gathered in the upper room in fear; they had witnessed Jesus' death on the Cross). Say: As witnesses to Jesus' death, Jesus' disciples had been very much a part of a situation of conflict. They gathered together in fear, perhaps because they thought that some people would seek their deaths as well. They very much needed to hear Jesus' words of peace and reassurance.

  6. Say: The feast of Pentecost celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus' first disciples. This same Holy Spirit is still with us. After breathing upon them and giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit, what does Jesus tell his disciples to do? (to forgive sins)

  7. Say: Just as Jesus sent his disciples to forgive the sins of others, so too we are sent to bring peace to the world. We also have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us with this task.

  8. Say: Looking back at the situation of conflict we talked about at the beginning, what might the Holy Spirit lead us to do to help bring peace to this situation of conflict? (Accept all reasonable answers. If appropriate, make a choice to do one of these actions as a group.)

  9. Conclude by praying together that the Holy Spirit will continue to work through us to bring peace to the world. Pray together today's psalm, or The Prayer to the Holy Spirit.


Gospel Reading
John 20:19-23
Jesus appears to his disciples and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people experience a certain amount of brokenness in their lives. By the same token, they have also had experiences of reconciliation when conflicts were resolved and relationships restored. As we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, our Gospel reminds us that this same Holy Spirit helps us to be agents of God's reconciliation in the world.

Materials Needed

  • Popsicle sticks (one for every 2 young people) and break them in half.

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Mix up the broken Popsicle sticks and randomly distribute one half to each young person.

  2. Invite them to move about the room, attempting to find the half that matches their half and then to use transparent tape to put the 2 pieces back together again.

  3. Point out that the word reconcile means “to make compatible” or “to re-establish a close relationship between.” In other words, it means to put something back together again.

  4. Tell the young people that when Jesus sent his Holy Spirit he sent us the gifts of peace and forgiveness.

  5. Say: When Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon them, he sent his disciples to continue his work of reconciliation through the forgiveness of sins.

  6. Invite volunteers to read aloud John 20:19-23.

  7. Say: The feast of Pentecost celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus' first disciples. This same Holy Spirit is still with us. After breathing upon them and giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit, what does Jesus tell his disciples to do? (to forgive sins)

  8. Say: Just as Jesus sent his disciples to forgive the sins of others, so too we are sent to bring peace to the world. We also have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us with this task.

  9. Say: How might the Holy Spirit lead us to help bring peace to situations of conflict? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  10. Conclude by praying together that the Holy Spirit will continue to work through us to bring peace to the world. Pray together today's psalm, or The Prayer to the Holy Spirit.


Gospel Reading
John 20:19-23
Jesus appears to his disciples and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Family Connection

Pentecost is sometimes called the birthday of the Church. The Gospel for Pentecost reminds us that the Church begins with the command to forgive. Within the family, the domestic Church, we learn how to forgive and we learn to accept forgiveness. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to do both. Today is a fitting time to share a family celebration of reconciliation.

As you gather together as a family, sit quietly for a few minutes, inviting all to reflect upon their need to forgive and to receive forgiveness. If there is a situation or issue within the family that needs attention, spend some time reflecting upon the concern and how your family might address it. Read together today's Gospel, John 20:19-23. Talk together about how Jesus gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us in the work of forgiveness and to bring us peace. Pray together today's psalm, or the Prayer to the Holy Spirit, asking that the Holy Spirit help your family. Share with one another the sign of peace.