Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Cycle A, 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.


Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles

Saturday, June 29, 2019


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11
Now I know it is indeed true: the Lord has saved me from the power of Herod.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 34:2-9
The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Second Reading
2 Timothy 4:6-8,17-18
All that remains now is the crown of righteousness.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:13-19
You are Peter; and I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Mark places this incident at Caesarea Philippi. Luke, because of the importance he wishes to give to prayer in his Gospel, places it in the context of Jesus praying. But Matthew keeps it at Caesarea Philippi. In today's Gospel, Jesus asks the disciples for a “field report” by asking what people are saying about him. He refers to himself as the Son of Man, a term derived from the Jewish Scriptures, found in the book of Daniel and in other apocryphal writings. Many scholars suggest that “Son of Man” is best understood to mean “human being.”

As Jesus turns the question directly to the disciples and asks what they believe, Peter speaks for all of them when he announces that they believe Jesus to be the Christ. “Christ” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for “messiah,” which means “the anointed one.” At the time of Jesus, the image of the “messiah” was laden with popular expectations, most of which looked for a political leader who would free the Jewish people from Roman occupation.

Because Jesus has referred to himself a number of times in Matthew by Christological titles this moment is not the revelation of who Jesus is as in Mark. Instead it marks an important moment in the development of the Church. Jesus uses this occasion to bless Peter, who represents all the disciples but also has a unique role to play in the founding of the new community. Peter is blessed not because of a personal insight but because God revealed to him who Jesus is. Peter is the rock on which Jesus will build the Church.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:13-19
You are Peter; and I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.


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

Young people are beginning to appreciate the importance of good leadership in community life. In Peter, we see an example of how good Christian leaders are grounded by their faith in Jesus.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: Who are some leaders in our community? In our city and state? In our country? In the world? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: We rely on leaders to guide us and to challenge us. Who are the leaders of our Church today? Why is it important for our Church to have good leaders? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Say: In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus singles out one of his apostles for a leadership role in the church. Let's listen carefully to see who this person is and what happens.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, Matthew 16:13-20.

  5. Ask: What question did Jesus ask his disciples? (What are people saying about me?) What answers do the disciples give? (John the Baptist, Elijah, the prophets) And then what does Jesus ask? (He asks for his disciples' opinion.) Who speaks for the disciples? (Peter)

  6. Say: In this Gospel, Jesus recognizes Peter as an important leader because Peter professes his belief that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus commends Peter for this, not because he came to this belief on his own, but because God allowed Peter to recognize Jesus as his only Son.

  7. Say: Peter played an important role in the early Christian community and helped to build the Church. This was a role given to him by God. We continue to honor Peter and those who have followed him as leaders in the Church. Today we recognize and honor the pope as Peter's successor. Like Peter, the pope reminds us that we are a people united in the faith that Jesus is God's Son.

  8. Conclude in prayer together for the pope and all of the leaders of the Church. Pray together prayers of petition for Church leaders and conclude with today's Psalm.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:13-19
You are Peter; and I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.


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

Young people are beginning to appreciate the importance of good leadership in community life. In Peter, we see an example of how good Christian leaders are grounded by their faith in Jesus.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: Who are some leaders in our community? In our city and state? In our country? In the world? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: We rely on leaders to guide us and to challenge us. Who are the leaders of our Church today? Why is it important for our Church to have good leaders? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Say: In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus singles out one of his apostles for a leadership role in the church. Let's listen carefully to see who this person is and what happens.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, Matthew 16:13-20.

  5. Ask: What question did Jesus ask his disciples? (What are people saying about me?) What answers do the disciples give? (John the Baptist, Elijah, the prophets) And then what does Jesus ask? (He asks for his disciples' opinion.) Who speaks for the disciples? (Peter)

  6. Say: In this Gospel, Jesus recognizes Peter as an important leader because Peter professes his belief that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus commends Peter for this, not because he came to this belief on his own, but because God allowed Peter to recognize Jesus as his only Son.

  7. Say: Peter played an important role in the early Christian community and helped to build the Church. This was a role given to him by God. We continue to honor Peter and those who have followed him as leaders in the Church. Today we recognize and honor the pope as Peter's successor. Like Peter, the pope reminds us that we are a people united in the faith that Jesus is God's Son.

  8. Conclude in prayer together for the pope and all of the leaders of the Church. Pray together prayers of petition for Church leaders and conclude with today's Psalm.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:13-19
You are Peter; and I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age have many friends and acquaintances, some of whom they know better than others. In Peter we see someone who knew Jesus' true identity.

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pencils for each young person

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: We recognize people on different levels. Some people we know by name only; some people we recognize from a particular setting. Those whom we know more familiarly, we recognize by mannerisms, habits, and personal qualities.

  2. Tell the young people that they are going to write two different descriptions of themselves. (Assure them that their writing will remain private.)

  3. Say: First, imagine that you are going to meet a stranger. How will you describe yourself so that the stranger will recognize you? (by physical appearance) Now write a physical description of yourself.

  4. When they have finished, say: Now write the description of yourself that you think Jesus would write.

  5. Ask: How are the two descriptions different? (Jesus' description of us focuses less on our physical characteristics and more on who we are inside.)

  6. Say: In this Sunday's Gospel, Peter was able to recognize Jesus' true identity.

  7. Invite a volunteer to read aloud Matthew 16:13-19.

  8. Ask: How was Peter's answer different from that of the other disciples? (The other disciples compared Jesus to others who came before him such as Elijah and John the Baptist; Peter describes Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God.)

  9. Say: Because of Peter's ability to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, Jesus chose him to be the leader of his Church. To this day, we consider the pope to be the successor of Peter. In the second reading for this Sunday, we hear from Paul. We owe much to Paul. It is because of his efforts that Gentiles—people who are not Jewish—were welcomed into the Church.

  10. Conclude by praying together the Apostles' Creed.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:13-19
You are Peter; and I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.


Family Connection

In today's Gospel, Jesus refers to Peter as “Rock” and says that the Church will be built upon him. We refer to someone as a “rock” when they are very reliable. Talk as a family about who has been and is a rock in your extended family.

The Gospel reminds us that the Church is built on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. It is faith that makes Peter the Rock upon which the Church is built. The family, as the domestic church, has this same faith as its foundation.

Talk about people whose faith has helped you to be a member of the Church and talk about what you have learned from leaders in our Church today. Read together today's Gospel, Matthew 16:13-20. Talk about what you know about Peter and his importance to the early Christian community. Talk about what we can learn from Peter and his profession of faith about Jesus. Conclude in prayer together by praying today's Psalm or an Act of Faith.