Second 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.


Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, January 19, 2020


This Sunday’s Readings


First Reading
Isaiah 49:3,5-6
God’s servant, Israel, will be made a light to the nations.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 40:2,4,7-10
God desires obedience.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
Paul greets the Church in Corinth.

Gospel Reading
John 1:29-34
John testifies that Jesus is the Lamb of God, God’s own Son.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday we break from our reading of Matthew’s Gospel (the primary Gospel for our current liturgical cycle, Cycle A) to read from John’s Gospel. We heard Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism last Sunday, on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Today, we hear John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus as found in John’s Gospel. John’s Gospel differs from the other Gospels because John does not describe Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Instead, John the Baptist announces that he knows that Jesus is the Son of God.

In today’s reading, John the Baptist sees Jesus approaching and cries out, giving witness about who Jesus is. In John’s testimony he says that he saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus. By this sign, John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the one who is to come after him.

John the Baptist uses two titles for Jesus that are familiar to us. John calls Jesus the “Lamb of God” and the “Son of God.” By using these titles, John the Baptist identifies Jesus’ ultimate purpose: to redeem sinful humanity.

John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus clearly distinguishes John’s baptism from the Baptism that Jesus will inaugurate. John baptizes with water; Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit. John also puts his practice of baptism in the context of Jesus’ ministry. The purpose of John’s baptism was to make Jesus known to Israel.

John the Baptist’s sense of purpose is clearly identified in this reading: he baptized in order to prepare for and make known the ministry of the One who was to follow. John’s witness is an excellent example of what it means to be a disciple. By our Baptism, we are called to make Jesus known to all the world by our words and by the witness of our lives. 


Gospel Reading
John 1:29-34
John testifies that Jesus is the Lamb of God, God’s own Son.


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

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. Teach younger children that we prepare the way for others to know Jesus when we joyfully share our faith in him. 

Materials Needed

  • none

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask younger children if they have any good news from the last week they want to share with the group. Ask: What do you want to do when you have wonderful news? (Share it with others; celebrate.) Say: We don’t keep good news to ourselves. We share it! 
  2. Say: John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. In today’s Gospel, he has wonderful news to share. Listen carefully.
  3. Read aloud today’s Gospel, John 1:29–34.
  4. Ask: Who does John the Baptist say Jesus is? (the Lamb of God, the Son of God) Discuss other names for Jesus, such as Lord and Savior, the Bread of Life, and the Light of the World. Say: John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is the Son of God, who has come to save us from sin. We testify when we share our faith in Jesus and the joy we feel knowing that he loves us and saves us from sin.
  5. Have children stand in a circle and teach them the following lyrics, sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands.”: Jesus loves me and I know it, clap your hands. Jesus loves me, and I know it, clap your hands. Jesus loves me and I know it and I really want to show it. Jesus loves me and I know it, clap your hands. Invite children to sing and clap joyfully share their faith.
  6. Close by praying that by your words and actions, you will share the news that Jesus is the Son of God, who takes away the sins of the world. 


Gospel Reading
John 1:29-34
John testifies that Jesus is the Lamb of God, God’s own Son.


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

The ministry of John the Baptist prepared for and pointed to the ministry of Jesus. In a similar way, our lives are to offer testimony to who we know Jesus to be for us and for the world.

Materials Needed

  • A prism

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Bring a prism to your session. Show the children how the prism refracts light and can produce a rainbow.

  2. Ask: Is the prism the light? (no) What is the source of the light? (the sun or the light source behind the prism)

  3. Ask the children to keep this demonstration in mind as you read today’s Gospel. Ask them to think about how John the Baptist is like the prism.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read today’s Gospel, John 1:29-34.

  5. Ask: How is John the Baptist like a prism? (He is not the light, but Jesus’ light shines through him. People came to know who Jesus is because of John.)

  6. Say: As disciples of Jesus, we can be a little like this prism. Jesus is the light, the source of all the good that we do. If we let the light of Jesus shine through us, others might recognize Jesus for who he is, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” What are some things we can do to show Jesus’ light? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  7. Conclude in prayer together that, like John the Baptist, we might make Jesus known to others. Pray today’s psalm, Psalm 40, or pray the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
John 1:29-34
John testifies that Jesus is the Lamb of God, God’s own Son.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

 

Young people at this age are often self-occupied and want attention. John the Baptist is an excellent role model of someone who directed attention away from himself and toward Jesus.

Materials Needed

  • Pictures of traffic and road signs
  • Small poster boards (one for each student)
  • Art materials

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Arrange the young people into two teams to play a road-sign identification game.

  2. Have one student from each team begin the game. Show a picture to the students and challenge them to explain what it means. Award a point to the first student to answer correctly. Continue to play with new volunteers until all the signs have been identified.

  3. When the game is finished, observe that signs have many purposes, but one of their most important functions is to point people in the right direction.

  4. Tell the young people that John the Baptist was like a road sign pointing to Jesus.

  5. Invite volunteers to read aloud John 1:29-34

  6. Distribute the poster boards and art materials and ask the young people to create signs with messages that John the Baptist might preach today. Invite volunteers to share their signs with the group.

  7. Say: John the Baptist pointed the way to Jesus. Similarly, we are to live our lives in such a way that we point to Jesus.

  8. Conclude in prayer together that like John the Baptist, we might make Jesus known to others. Pray today’s psalm, Psalm 40, or pray the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
John 1:29-34
John testifies that Jesus is the Lamb of God, God’s own Son.


Family Connection

The ministry of John the Baptist prepared for and pointed to the ministry of Jesus. In a similar way, our lives are to offer testimony to who we know Jesus to be for us and for the world. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. How does the witness of our lives give testimony to the reconciling presence of Christ?

As a family, identify as many titles for Jesus as possible, such as Lamb of God, Son of God, Prince of Peace, and so on. Talk together about what these different titles mean and what they tell you about Jesus. Then read together today’s Gospel, John 1:29-34.

Consider how John the Baptist gives testimony to who Jesus is. Talk about what people might come to know about Jesus by observing your family life. Pray together that your family life will show others that Jesus is the Son of God, the lamb who takes away the sins of the world. Pray the Lord’s Prayer.