Third Sunday of Advent, Cycle 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.


Third Sunday of Advent, Cycle A

Sunday, December 15, 2019


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Isaiah 35:1-6,10
In the day of the Lord, all sorrow and mourning will cease.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 146:6-7,8-9,9-10
The Lord will save his people.

Second Reading
James 5:7-10
Be patient, and be ready; the coming of the Lord is near.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 11:2-11
Jesus tells John the Baptist of the signs of the kingdom that are being worked through him and praises John as more than a prophet.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word meaning “rejoice.” This Sunday is so named because “Rejoice” is the first word in the entrance antiphon for today's Mass taken from Philippians 4:4,5: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” Some people mark this Sunday on their Advent wreath with a pink candle instead of a purple candle. This Sunday is a joyful reminder that our salvation is near.

This week's Gospel Reading continues our Advent reflection on the person and message of John the Baptist. Last week we heard John speak about his relationship to the coming Messiah, Jesus. This week, we hear Jesus' message to John the Baptist, now in prison, about the signs of the kingdom found in Jesus' ministry and Jesus' assessment of John's role in the Kingdom of God.

The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of John's arrest in chapter 14:3-12. In today's Gospel, John sends word to Jesus from prison, asking if Jesus is the Messiah for whom he has been waiting. Jesus responds by pointing to the miracles that he has worked and invites John and the other hearers to make their own determination. In his next breath, however, Jesus praises John for his role in preparing the way for Jesus. Then Jesus says that all of those who work for the Kingdom of God will be as great as John and even greater.

Jesus' message to John about the signs of the kingdom being performed recalls the salvation described by the prophet Isaiah. This passage is a reminder that the beginning of salvation is already mysteriously present to us, but also yet to be fulfilled. Salvation is already in our midst as manifest in the miraculous deeds of Jesus and in the Church. But salvation is also to be fulfilled in the coming reign of God. Even as we observe our world today, we can find glimpses of God's work among us. Even more, we help to prepare the way for God's kingdom by our words and our deeds. This message is indeed a cause for rejoicing.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 11:2-11
Jesus tells John the Baptist of the signs of the kingdom that are being worked through him and praises John as more than a prophet.


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

While John was in prison, he sent his followers to see if Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus verified that he truly was the Messiah by the miracles that he performed. He praised John as the greatest man ever born and promised that all who go to heaven will also be great.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite each child to do a pantomime that shows a job he or she might like to do as an adult and have the rest of the class try to figure out what that job is.

  2. Then tell them about John the Baptist, whose job it was to tell the people that Jesus was coming and to tell them to get ready for him. Next, tell the children about Jesus' job, which was to teach people about God by showing them through miracles God's greatness and his love for us.

  3. Say: In the Gospel Reading this week, we find that John had been thrown into jail for doing his job. John sent his followers to Jesus to ask if he was the one God promised to send. Listen to what Jesus answered. Read Matthew 11:2-6.

  4. Say: Jesus answered John's question by telling him how he was doing his job. What was Jesus doing? (performing miracles) Then Jesus told the people how John was doing the job he was given. Read Matthew 11:7-11. What job was John the Baptist given? (He was uninterested in the things of this world—a nice home and fine clothes—and was even willing to go to prison to do the job God gave him.)

  5. Say: Jesus called John the greatest person ever born and said that when we do what God wants us to do, we too will be great in heaven someday.

  6. Pray together that we will be like John the Baptist and prepare the way for Jesus; pray the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 11:2-11
Jesus tells John the Baptist of the signs of the kingdom that are being worked through him and praises John as more than a prophet.


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

When John the Baptist sends his messengers to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah, Jesus responds by naming some of the signs of the kingdom that have been observed in Jesus' ministry. Today is our Advent Sunday for rejoicing. We rejoice when we can find signs of God's work in our world.

Materials Needed

  • Various newspapers or news magazines

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say to the group: Today is the Third Sunday of Advent. This Sunday is traditionally called “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete is the Latin word that means “Rejoice!” We call today “Gaudete Sunday” because one of the prayers for today's Mass, taken from Paul's Letter to Philippians, is this: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.”

  2. Say: Let us listen to today's Gospel and hear if we can identify what is the cause for our rejoicing. Invite two volunteers to read today's Gospel. The first should read Matthew 11:2-6; the second should read Matthew 11:7-11.

  3. Ask the group: What do you think might be a reason for our rejoicing today? (We rejoice because, in the activities that Jesus reports to John's messengers, we find God at work in the world.) Say: If we look carefully enough, we can still find signs that God is at work in our world today.

  4. Divide into small groups of two or three children and distribute among the groups the newspapers or news magazines that you brought for this session. Ask each group to look through these papers and magazines to find signs that God is at work in our world, signs such as those that Jesus indicated to John the Baptist. Invite the groups to share one or two stories that they have found.

  5. Pray together in thanksgiving that God is at work in our world by praying today's Psalm.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 11:2-11
Jesus tells John the Baptist of the signs of the kingdom that are being worked through him and praises John as more than a prophet.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people at this age want to be happy. This Sunday's Gospel Reading teaches us the real reason for being joyful—salvation in Jesus is near to us.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. As a group, brainstorm a list of examples of suffering. (Examples: the sick, unemployed, refugees, victims of violence)

  2. Point out that because of suffering, many people have little or no joy in their lives.

  3. Tell the young people that, as followers of Jesus, we are called to bring the joyful message of salvation to those who are most in need of it.

  4. Say: In this Sunday's Gospel Reading, Jesus teaches us that we have reason to rejoice.

  5. Invite a volunteer to read aloud Matthew 11:2-11.

  6. Say: This Sunday is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word meaning “rejoice.” We call today Gaudete Sunday because one of the prayers for today's Mass, taken from Paul's letter to the Philippians, is “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” From this Sunday's Gospel, what do you think might be a reason for our rejoicing? (Possible answers: We rejoice because, in the activities that Jesus reports to John's messengers, we find God at work in the world.)

  7. Emphasize that proclaiming the joy of salvation in Jesus means more than simply telling people to be happy. It requires that we work to improve the conditions in their lives that prevent them from experiencing joy.

  8. Pray together for the grace needed to bring the joy of salvation in Jesus to others.


Gospel Reading
Matthew 11:2-11
Jesus tells John the Baptist of the signs of the kingdom that are being worked through him and praises John as more than a prophet.


Family Connection

It is easy to look at our world and become discouraged by the apparent absence of God and signs of God's salvation. Advent, however, is a season of hope, in which we acknowledge that salvation is both mysteriously present, even in our world, and yet to be fulfilled.

Read together today's Gospel. Think about John's question to Jesus: Are you the One? Jesus does not answer directly, but points to the signs of the kingdom present in his midst.

Together as a family, look through the newspaper for signs of hope that God is at work in our world. Pray that the world will know God's salvation by praying together the Lord's Prayer.