Third Sunday of Advent, 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.


Third Sunday of Advent, Cycle C

Sunday, December 16, 2018


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Zephaniah 3:14-18a
A savior is promised to Israel.

Responsorial Psalm
Isaiah 12:2-3,4,5-6
A song of praise to God our savior

Second Reading
Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice always because the Lord is near.

Gospel Reading
Luke 3:10-18
John the Baptist teaches the path of repentance and announces Christ.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday's Gospel continues last week's focus on John the Baptist and his role in preparing the way for Christ. Recall that last week's reading described John's appearance in the desert and established his connection with the prophetic tradition of Israel. If we were to read Luke's Gospel continuously, we would learn about John the Baptist challenging the crowds who came to him and calling upon them to show evidence of their repentance. John tells his listeners that they cannot rely on their lineage as Israelites because children of Abraham can be raised up from stones. Repentance, rather, must be observable in one's actions. Here, Luke is continuing to set up two important themes of his Gospel message: the Christian faith is expressed in one's actions, and the call to salvation is extended to everyone, Jews and Gentiles.

In today's Gospel reading, the crowds ask John the Baptist for specifics. What evidence of repentance is required? John replies by naming concrete actions: crowds should share their food and cloaks; tax collectors should be just; soldiers should act fairly. The concern for justice is a hallmark of Luke's Gospel.

When the crowd begins to wonder if John the Baptist might be the Messiah, John interprets his baptism and makes it clear that his ministry is in preparation for the Messiah. John the Baptist knows his place and role in God's plan of salvation. By encouraging the crowd to act similarly in accordance with their stations in life, John's teaching suggests that each person has a role to play in God's salvation. It is the great mystery of our salvation that God permits and even asks for human cooperation in his divine plans.

The third Sunday of Advent is also called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word that means “rejoice.” This name is taken from the entrance antiphon for Sunday's Mass, which is also echoed in today's second reading from the Paul's letter to the Philippians. Some people mark this Sunday by lighting a pink candle instead of a purple one on their Advent wreath. It is a reminder that the Advent season is a season of joy because our salvation is already at hand.


Gospel Reading
Luke 3:10-18
John the Baptist teaches the path of repentance and announces Christ.


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

Older children still struggle with patience as they experience the need to wait for things in their lives. We can help them understand that some situations require a different kind of waiting than others. During Advent, we prepare the way of the Lord with an active waiting.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: Often we have occasions that require us to wait for someone or something. But these experiences can be very different. Let's think about this. Ask the young people to compare the following situations: How does waiting for an appointment at a doctor's office compare with waiting for a visit from a friend? To help us consider this question, let's think about the following: How might you feel in each situation? (You are probably looking forward to your friend's visit. You may or may not be looking forward to the doctor's appointment.) What might you be doing while you wait? (At the doctor's office, you might not do anything in particular, or you might read to pass the time. While waiting for your friend, you might be getting things ready.) Both situations require us to wait, but how might we summarize how these two situations are different? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: Advent is the season in the Church year that focuses on the experience of waiting. We think about how the Israelites waited for the Messiah. We think about how we wait for Jesus to come again in glory. In today's Gospel, we get some clues about what kind of waiting experience this is to be.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Luke 3:10-18.

  4. Ask: Which groups question John? (the crowds, the tax collectors, the soldiers) How does John respond to each of these? (To the crowds, he says share what you have with others. To the tax collectors, he says be just. To the soldiers, he says be fair.) John teaches that there are things people must do to prepare for the Lord.

  5. Ask: Which kind of waiting experience is more like Advent— waiting for a doctor's appointment or waiting for a friend's visit? (waiting for a friend's visit) Why? (It is something we look forward to; there are things we are supposed to do during this time of waiting.)

  6. Say: Advent is a time of active waiting as we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth and await his coming in glory. What are some things you might do during Advent to prepare for the Lord? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Suggest that each person choose one thing to do during Advent to prepare the way of the Lord.

  7. Conclude in prayer together asking God to help make and follow through on our commitment to prepare the way of the Lord during Advent. Sing together “Prepare the Way of the Lord” or pray the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Luke 3:10-18
John the Baptist teaches the path of repentance and announces Christ.


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

Older children still struggle with patience as they experience the need to wait for things in their lives. We can help them understand that some situations require a different kind of waiting than others. During Advent, we prepare the way of the Lord with an active waiting.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: Often we have occasions that require us to wait for someone or something. But these experiences can be very different. Let's think about this. Ask the young people to compare the following situations: How does waiting for an appointment at a doctor's office compare with waiting for a visit from a friend? To help us consider this question, let's think about the following: How might you feel in each situation? (You are probably looking forward to your friend's visit. You may or may not be looking forward to the doctor's appointment.) What might you be doing while you wait? (At the doctor's office, you might not do anything in particular, or you might read to pass the time. While waiting for your friend, you might be getting things ready.) Both situations require us to wait, but how might we summarize how these two situations are different? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: Advent is the season in the Church year that focuses on the experience of waiting. We think about how the Israelites waited for the Messiah. We think about how we wait for Jesus to come again in glory. In today's Gospel, we get some clues about what kind of waiting experience this is to be.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Luke 3:10-18.

  4. Ask: Which groups question John? (the crowds, the tax collectors, the soldiers) How does John respond to each of these? (To the crowds, he says share what you have with others. To the tax collectors, he says be just. To the soldiers, he says be fair.) John teaches that there are things people must do to prepare for the Lord.

  5. Ask: Which kind of waiting experience is more like Advent— waiting for a doctor's appointment or waiting for a friend's visit? (waiting for a friend's visit) Why? (It is something we look forward to; there are things we are supposed to do during this time of waiting.)

  6. Say: Advent is a time of active waiting as we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth and await his coming in glory. What are some things you might do during Advent to prepare for the Lord? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Suggest that each person choose one thing to do during Advent to prepare the way of the Lord.

  7. Conclude in prayer together asking God to help make and follow through on our commitment to prepare the way of the Lord during Advent. Sing together “Prepare the Way of the Lord” or pray the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
Luke 3:10-18
John the Baptist teaches the path of repentance and announces Christ.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

As young people continue to mature, they learn about the challenges of forgiveness and reconciliation that require us to make changes in our lives. We can use Advent's focus on repentance to teach the importance of the call to individual conversion.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: There are many situations that occur in our lives where we might have to apologize to someone or another person might have to apologize to us. Which apology sounds more sincere: when a person says, “I'm sorry” or when a person says, “I'm sorry I called you a name. I know that this hurt your feelings, and I'll try not to do it again.” (the second one) What is the difference between the two apologies? (The second one is more specific.)

  2. Say: Apologies often sound more sincere when we can be specific about what we are sorry about and then identify specific changes we will try to make to act differently in the future. In today's Gospel, we hear people ask John the Baptist what is needed for their repentance. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today's Gospel, Luke 3:10-18.

  4. Ask: Which groups question John? (the crowds, the tax collectors, the soldiers) How does John respond? (To the crowds, he says share what you have with others. To the tax collectors, he says be just. To the soldiers, he says be fair.) Say: John makes specific, concrete suggestions for each of the groups who question him. Our desire to make ready for Jesus will be more sincere if we can identify one specific change we might make in our lives to prepare the way of the Lord.

  5. Ask: What is one specific change you might make during Advent to prepare for Jesus? Allow time for the young people to consider this question silently.

  6. Conclude in prayer together asking God to help us in our commitment to make this one specific change in our lives. Pray together the Act of Contrition.


Gospel Reading
Luke 3:10-18
John the Baptist teaches the path of repentance and announces Christ.


Family Connection

The theme of the season of Advent is sometimes described as a period of waiting for the birth of Jesus. However, today's Gospel reading suggests something different. John the Baptist did not tell the crowds to wait for the Messiah. He told them to prepare for the Messiah through acts of repentance. If Advent is a time of waiting, it is not the sitting in the doctor's office kind of waiting. It is a busy time of preparation, more like the waiting we might do when preparing for dinner guests. Our challenge is to not make this season a frenzied time, but rather a time of joyful anticipation and making ready for God who comes to dwell among us and changes our lives with the gift of salvation.

As you gather as a family, talk about the preparations your family is making during the season of Advent. Reflect together on these activities, not only on what you are doing but why you are choosing to do these things. Read together today's Gospel, Luke 3:10-18. Consider how Advent is a time for making ourselves ready to receive Jesus in our lives. Could your family make some changes in your Advent activities so that each person is well prepared to celebrate the gift of salvation at Christmas? Conclude in prayer together that your family will be able to live the spirit of Advent. Sing together an Advent song, such as “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” or pray together today's second reading, Philippians 4:4-7, as you light the third candle on your Advent wreath.