Third Sunday of Easter, 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 Easter, Cycle C

Sunday, May 5, 2019


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 5:27-32,40b-41
The apostles are brought before the Sanhedrin and ordered to stop speaking in Jesus' name.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 30:2,4,5-6,11-12,13
A song of praise to God who rescues us.

Second Reading
Revelation 5:11-14
John describes his vision of the praises that will be sung to the Lamb by every creature on heaven and earth.

Gospel Reading
John 21:1-19 (short form:John 21:1-14)
Jesus appears to the disciples for a third time after his Resurrection and shares a meal with them.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In Lectionary Cycle C, our Sunday Gospels are usually taken from the Gospel of Luke. The Gospels for the Easter Season, however, are taken from the Gospel of John. Today's Gospel is one of the post-Resurrection appearances reported by John. Recall that in John's Gospel, Jesus appears first to Mary of Magdala, second to all of the disciples except Thomas, and finally to Thomas and the disciples (which we heard last Sunday). After those appearances, John's Gospel seems to conclude with a reference to other signs that Jesus gave after his Resurrection, which have not been recorded.

Because it follows this apparent conclusion, most scholars believe today's Gospel passage (and all of John 21) to have been an addition to John's original text. Because there are significant differences between this report and the other appearances described in John's Gospel, it is quite likely that this story is from a different source. There are details in the story that recall Jesus' call to Simon Peter and the other fishermen as well as the miraculous catch of fish (found in the Gospel of Luke, with parallels in the other Synoptic Gospels). The end of the chapter, where Jesus asks Peter three times whether he loves him, most likely is meant to represent the reconciliation that occurred between the community represented by John's Gospel with the larger Christian community represented by Peter. This Gospel reading is a rich and textured story that speaks of Jesus' presence in the Eucharist and our commission to serve others as Jesus did.

Last week we heard that Jesus appeared to the gathered disciples in a locked room, probably in Jerusalem. In today's Gospel, the disciples are no longer in Jerusalem; they are in Galilee, returning to their work of fishing. Simon Peter is still presented in the role of leader: when he announces that he is going fishing, the other disciples follow. They spend the night fishing but are unsuccessful.

Jesus calls to them from the shore, but just as when Jesus first appeared to Mary of Magdala, the disciples do not recognize him immediately. Still, they follow the stranger's instructions and bring in a large haul of fish. It is at this point that one of the disciples (the “disciple whom Jesus loved”) realizes that Jesus is appearing to them. Upon hearing this news, Simon Peter leads the way again, jumping from the boat and swimming to shore. The other disciples follow in the boat, dragging the fish.

The disciples have brought to shore a tremendous catch of fish that Jesus has directed them to find. But once on the shore, they see that Jesus has already prepared fish and bread on a charcoal fire. Jesus directs the disciples to bring their catch of fish as well. Jesus is host at the meal that follows, feeding the disciples the bread and fish. In this detail we see allusions to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes told in John 6.

There are also allusions in the Gospel to our gathering for the celebration of the Mass. In the Eucharist, we too are fed by Jesus in the bread and wine that have become his very Body and Blood. We also find in this story insight about the Presentation of the Gifts at Mass. The gifts we bring to the altar, bread and wine, are made from gifts that God gave first to us: grain and grapes, the fruit of the earth. God has no need of anything further. Yet God accepts the offering we bring—bread and wine, “the work of human hands”—and transforms our offering into the gift of his very presence.

After the meal, Jesus directs himself to Simon Peter. The community of John's Gospel probably looked down on Peter because of his denial of Jesus. This dialogue with Simon Peter is a reversal of Peter's three denials. Peter is forgiven. Having been restored to friendship with Jesus, Simon Peter is sent on a mission. “Feed my lambs . . . Tend my sheep . . . Feed my sheep.” These commands indicate that Peter is to be as Jesus, even unto sacrificing for the flock. As Jesus has fed Peter in this meal and as Jesus feeds us in the Eucharist, so he also sends us to follow him, asking that we offer our lives in service and sacrifice.


Gospel Reading
John 21:1-19 (short form:John 21:1-14)
Jesus appears to the disciples for a third time after his Resurrection and shares a meal with them.


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

Younger children have enjoyed special meals with their families. Lead them to see that God feeds us in many ways.

Materials Needed

  • photograph of a family meal celebrating a special event (a holiday or birthday)

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show children the photograph and tell them what you were celebrating and what food you ate together. Invite children to tell you about a special meal, what event they were celebrating, and what foods they ate. Say: We share meals with family and friends to celebrate special events and enjoy one another’s company. Jesus shared meals with his disciples. After his Resurrection, he fed his disciples a meal. Let’s hear about the meal they shared together.
  2. Read the shorter form of today’s Gospel, John 21:1–14.
  3. Ask: What were the disciples doing when Jesus called to them? (fishing) Say: Jesus told them how to catch many fish. Ask: What food did Jesus feed the disciples? (fish and bread) How do you think the disciples felt to be able to have one more meal with Jesus? (Accept all reasonable answers, including happy and grateful.)
  4. Say: Jesus fed his disciples, and he feeds us too. Bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus. Ask: When do we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus? (during the Eucharist, Holy Communion) Say: Jesus is truly present to us during the Eucharist.
  5. Thank God for the many ways he feeds us in body and spirit. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.


Gospel Reading
John 21:1-19 (short form:John 21:1-14)
Jesus appears to the disciples for a third time after his Resurrection and shares a meal with them.


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

Just as particular foods are associated with particular celebrations, bread and wine are integral to our celebration of the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.

Materials Needed

  • Pictures of a number of different celebrations that can be identified by the food served (birthday party, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinner, wedding, and so on)

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show pictures of a number of different celebrations that can be identified by the food served (birthday party, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinner, wedding, and so on). Ask the children to identify the type of party shown. Have the children offer evidence from the picture to support their answer.

  2. Say: We can often identify the celebration by the food that is shared. In the Gospels, we read about many meals that Jesus shared with his friends. In many cases, particular food is named.

  3. Ask: What meals do you remember Jesus sharing with his friends? (the Last Supper, the feeding of the multitude) What were the foods that were shared at these meals? (bread, fish, wine)

  4. Introduce today's Gospel. Say: This week's Gospel reading tells about another meal that Jesus shared with his friends. This meal was shared after Jesus' Resurrection. Let's listen to the story of this meal.

  5. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, John 21:1-19.

  6. Ask: What were the disciples doing when Jesus called to them? (fishing) What happened when Jesus told them to toss their nets on the right side of the boat? (They caught a large number of fish.) What do the disciples see on the fire when they bring in the fish they have caught? (fish and bread)

  7. Say: That morning on the shore, Jesus fed his disciples. Jesus feeds us, too. What do we call the meal in which Jesus feeds us? (the Eucharist) What food do we find at this meal? (bread and wine that have become the Body and Blood of Christ)

  8. Say: The Eucharist is the meal in which Jesus feeds us with his Body and Blood. When we eat the Body and Blood of Christ, we become one with Jesus. Jesus helps us grow in body, in soul, and in love.

  9. Conclude by thanking Jesus for giving us the Eucharist. Conclude praying together the Lord's Prayer.


Gospel Reading
John 21:1-19 (short form:John 21:1-14)
Jesus appears to the disciples for a third time after his Resurrection and shares a meal with them.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

The actions that follow words of forgiveness are as important to restoring hurt relationships as the words themselves. In the dialogue between Jesus and Simon Peter, we see Jesus healing a broken relationship in word and action as he entrusts to Peter leadership of the Church.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the young people to think about reassurances that are given after relationships have been hurt. Say: When we have hurt another, even after we have asked for and received forgiveness, there is often a period of time when we are more careful about what we say and how we act around the person we have hurt. Even if we have heard words of forgiveness, it takes time for that forgiveness to feel real. Think about a situation and a relationship in which this has happened to you. Think about what happened to let you know that the hurt between you had really and truly been forgiven.

  2. Say: In today's Gospel, in the dialogue between Jesus and Peter, we hear how the relationship broken by Peter's denial of Jesus is healed. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, John 21:1-19.

  4. Ask: What does Jesus ask Simon Peter? (Do you love me?) How many times does Jesus ask this question? (three) What does Jesus say after Peter answers each of his questions? (“Feed my lambs”; “Tend my sheep”; “Feed my sheep”) In these words, what reassurance is Jesus giving that their relationship has been restored? (Accept all reasonable answers; e.g., Jesus is showing trust in Peter by giving him a mission.)

  5. Say: In our Baptism, we were also entrusted with a mission to love and serve others in Jesus' name. Like Peter, we sin and turn away from Jesus and the mission he gives us. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are forgiven. Our relationship with Jesus is healed and restored so that we can again be disciples of Jesus, sent to be people who love and serve others as Jesus did.

  6. Conclude by praying together that we will seek forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Pray together an Act of Contrition.


Gospel Reading
John 21:1-19 (short form:John 21:1-14)
Jesus appears to the disciples for a third time after his Resurrection and shares a meal with them.


Family Connection

Today's Gospel describes what we can easily imagine as a picnic on the beach. Just as Jesus' miracle at the wedding feast at Cana blesses the love between man and woman celebrated in the sacrament of marriage, Jesus' attentiveness to food and mealtimes raises the possibility that our meal gatherings can be sacred times. In families, the domestic church, our meals together are everyday opportunities to gather and recall Jesus' presence with us. As in the Eucharist, we bring the gifts that God has given us, which have been prepared especially for our Mass, and at our family meals we share gifts that God has given to us and that we have worked together to prepare. This includes the food on the table and also the people who gather around the table. We ask God to bless these gifts and to be present among us in all of our interactions.

Consider a recent family meal: What food was served? Where did the food come from? Who prepared the food? Who served the food? Was mealtime a happy time? Why or why not? Observe that today's Gospel tells about a meal that Jesus shared with his disciples after his Resurrection. Read aloud today's Gospel, John 21:1-14. Reflect on the Gospel reading using the questions above. Talk about ways in which this meal that Jesus shared with his disciples might remind us of the meal we share at the Eucharist. You might choose to plan a special meal together as a family, encouraging each person to participate in the meal preparation. Pray together that Jesus will make his loving presence known in your family life. Pray together the Lord's Prayer.