Second Sunday of Advent, Cycle B 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 of Advent, Cycle B

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Today’s Readings


First Reading
Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11
Isaiah tells the people to prepare a way for the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 85:9-14
The Lord’s salvation is near.

Second Reading
2 Peter 3:8-14
Peter teaches that we must always be holy because the return of the Lord cannot be predicted.

Gospel Reading
Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptist preached repentance and baptized the people, in preparation for the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel is taken from the beginning of Mark. Unlike Luke and Matthew, Mark does not include any details of Jesus’ birth. Instead Mark begins with the appearance of John the Baptist in the desert. On this the Second Sunday of Advent, we are invited to reflect upon the role of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus and the salvation that he would bring to us.

Mark’s description of the appearance of John the Baptist highlights John’s continuity with the Jewish prophetic tradition. Mark combines quotations from the Old Testament books of Malachi, Isaiah, and Exodus. Mark’s description of John as an ascetic, living in the desert, clothed in camel hair, and eating locusts and wild honey, is reminiscent of the description of the prophet Elijah found in Second Kings. The people of Judea and Jerusalem flock to him, listening to his message of repentance and forgiveness; they also come to him to be baptized. Mark’s Gospel is clear, however, that John the Baptist’s role is only to prepare the way for another who will come, one who is greater than John.

Many scholars believe that the Gospels reflect the tension that likely existed between followers of John the Baptist and disciples of Jesus. Each of the four Evangelists report on John’s preaching and baptizing, and they each emphasize the importance of Jesus’ baptism by John. The four Gospels also explain that John was sent to preach in preparation for another. In the Gospel of Luke, the question is raised as to whether John the Baptist was himself the Messiah. Just as in today’s Gospel, however, John speaks quite explicitly that the Messiah was to come after him.

In today’s Gospel we hear John the Baptist contrast his baptism of repentance with the baptism that Jesus will inaugurate. John says that he has baptized with water, but that the one who is to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit. John’s baptism was not yet a Christian baptism, but a preparation for the Sacrament of Baptism through which sins are forgiven and the gift of the Holy Spirit is received.

John the Baptist is presented to us as a model during Advent. We, too, are called upon to prepare a way for the Lord. Like John the Baptist, we are messengers in service to one who is greater than we are. Our Baptism commissions us to call others to life as disciples of Jesus.


Gospel Reading
Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptist preached repentance and baptized the people, in preparation for the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

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

Young children learn to be faithful followers of Jesus by following the examples of the people in their lives. We can show them that their faithfulness to Jesus can also serve as an example to others, preparing the way for Jesus.

Materials Needed

  • A necklace with a cross on it
  • Several items or pictures of items that represent different professions (for example, a firefighter’s hat, a thermometer, a shovel, a toy school bus, a wooden spoon, a book)
  • A small bowl of holy water

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. As you show the items or pictures that you have brought to represent various professions, have the children guess what profession each symbol represents. Talk about what people do in these jobs. Then show the children a cross necklace and ask: Who should wear something like this? (followers of Jesus) What would they do in their job? (Follow Jesus; invite others to follow Jesus.)

  2. Say: It can be difficult for us to know how to follow Jesus, so God sends us helpers. Our helpers are our parents, teachers, Church leaders, and the Bible. In the Bible we learn that God sent John the Baptist as a helper to prepare the way for Jesus.

  3. Read today’s Gospel, Mark 1:1-8. Say: John the Baptist taught the people the importance of repenting for their sins. As a sign of forgiveness, those who repented were baptized by John. John also told the people to look for another who would be greater than he was. That person we know was Jesus.

  4. Say: During Advent, we ask God to forgive our sins and look for ways that we can be better followers of Jesus. What are some things we can change in our lives to better follow Jesus? (We can be more loving, caring, sharing, helpful, hardworking, and so on.) When we do these things, we become like John the Baptist and invite others to follow Jesus. Let’s all choose one thing that we will do this week to change our lives so that we are better followers of Jesus. Allow time for the children to think about what they will do this week.

  5. Conclude in prayer together for the strength to prepare the way for Jesus by staying faithful to the promises of our Baptisms. Place the bowl of holy water in your prayer space. Invite the children to make the sign of the cross with the holy water as they make a silent promise to God to do one thing this week to be a better follower of Jesus. Pray together the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.


Gospel Reading
Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptist preached repentance and baptized the people, in preparation for the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

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

During the season of Advent, older children observe many people making preparations for our celebration of Christmas. We can invite these children to reflect upon how these actions might help us to prepare the way for Jesus. We can also remind them that Advent calls us to prepare the way for Jesus by renewing our lives through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: During the season of Advent, many of us do many things to prepare for our celebration at Christmas. What are some things that people do to prepare for Christmas? Make a list of these things together as a group.

  2. Say: Many people are very busy during the season of Advent doing all these things. But let’s consider for a minute how these things prepare us to receive Jesus. Look over the list we have just made. How do these things prepare the way for Jesus? (Accept all reasonable answers; acknowledge that some of these things prepare the way for Jesus more than others.)

  3. Say: The Gospel for today tells us how John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read Mark 1:1-8.

  5. Ask: What did John the Baptist do to prepare the way for Jesus? (He preached repentance and baptized people as a sign of forgiveness of sins.) Having heard today’s Gospel, is there anything else that you think that we should be doing during Advent to prepare the way for Jesus? (Encourage answers that identify ways in which we might repent for our sins, seek forgiveness, and change our lives so that we might invite others to be followers of Jesus.)

  6. Say: One of the things that the Church invites us to do during the season of Advent is to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If there are special opportunities in your Church community to celebrate reconciliation during the season of Advent, mention them now. During Advent, we seek forgiveness for our sins and look for ways in which we can be better followers of Jesus.

  7. Conclude with a simple reconciliation service, such as the following: Read again from today’s Gospel, Mark 1:4-8. Invite the group to pray silently, asking God to forgive our sins and promising to do one thing this week to be a better follower of Jesus. Pray together an Act of Contrition and then celebrate God’s forgiveness by sharing a sign of peace.


Gospel Reading
Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptist preached repentance and baptized the people, in preparation for the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Especially during this time of the year, young people are inundated with consumer messages from retail advertisers trying to influence shoppers who are buying gifts for the holidays. During Advent, we can help young people focus on a different message by reflecting on the example of John the Baptist when considering how to “prepare the way of the Lord” in our own lives.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: At this time of year, we see lots of advertising trying to get our attention and influence our shopping habits. Ask the group to name strategies that stores use to attract attention and influence people as they shop for the holidays (for example, colorful signs and decorations, attractive window displays, special sales). Ask: How have these strategies influenced your shopping? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: These messages can have a powerful influence on us, especially as we get ready for Christmas. The Gospels we hear at Mass during Advent call us to pay attention to a different message as we prepare to welcome Christ into our hearts. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear about John the Baptist and his message to “prepare the way of the Lord.” (Isaiah 40:3) Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read Mark 1:1-8.

  4. Ask: What about John the Baptist might have caught people’s attention? (He wore clothing made of camel’s hair; he ate locusts and wild honey.) What did John the Baptist want people to do? (repent from sin; be baptized as a sign of repentance)

  5. Say: John the Baptist’s appearance and his message of repentance caught people’s attention. Then he told them the most important thing. What did he say? (Another mightier than I will come after me; he will baptize with the Holy Spirit.) We know that he was talking about Jesus.

  6. Say: During Advent, we affirm John’s message by “prepare[ing] the way of the Lord” in our own lives. We seek forgiveness for our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and look for ways in which we can be better followers of Jesus. In our words and actions, we hope to be like John the Baptist in leading others to Jesus. In what ways can we “prepare the way of the Lord” in the world today? (Accept all reasonable answers, such as making good choices, working for peace and justice, and being prepared to talk about our faith.)

  7. Conclude by praying together the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 85, praying with confidence that we will hear God’s message of salvation, justice, and peace and announce it to others.


Gospel Reading
Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptist preached repentance and baptized the people, in preparation for the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

Family Connection

The season of Advent invites us to renew our lives in preparation for the coming of Jesus. The people who heard the message of John the Baptist repented for their sins and were baptized as a sign of God’s forgiveness. In Baptism, our sins are forgiven, and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, who helps us in our life of discipleship. Led by the Holy Spirit, we use this Advent season to renew our lives so that we, like John the Baptist, might prepare the way for Jesus.

As you gather together as a family, talk about ways in which the example of others has called you to be a follower of Jesus. Name the people who have been examples to you of Christian discipleship and describe their characteristics that you have tried to emulate. Read together today’s Gospel, Mark 1:1-8.

As John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, Baptism commissions us to prepare the way of the Lord. The gift of the Holy Spirit leads us to continually renew our lives so that we might lead others to Jesus. As a family, identify at least one action that you will take this week to try to be more faithful followers of Jesus. Conclude in prayer together that God will receive this action and use it to lead others to Jesus. Pray the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.