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.


Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Sunday, February 24, 2019

First Reading
1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9,12-13,22-23
David does not kill Saul.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 103:1-4,8,10,12-13
A song in praise of God's mercy

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 15:45-49
As we bear the image of Adam, so we will bear the image of the one from heaven.

Gospel Reading
Luke 6:27-38
Jesus teaches his disciples to be merciful as God is merciful.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today's gospel reading is a continuation of the teaching that began in last Sunday's gospel. We continue to hear Jesus' Sermon on the Plain. Recall that in Luke's Gospel, this teaching is addressed to Jesus' disciples. This is in contrast to the parallel found in Matthew's Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus' words are addressed to both the disciples and to the crowds.

These words from Jesus' teaching are familiar to us. They constitute the crux and the challenge of what it means to be a disciple: Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, give to those who ask, do unto others, lend without expecting repayment, judge not lest you be judged.

There are several similarities between Luke's and Matthew's report of Jesus' great teaching. Both begin with the Beatitudes. Matthew includes nearly all the content that Luke does; the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's Gospel is longer than Luke's Sermon on the Plain. There are, however, differences in language and nuance. For example, Matthew presents this portion of the teaching as a contrast between Jesus' teaching and the teachings of the law and the prophets. This is in keeping with Matthew's concern to address his predominantly Jewish audience. It is likely that Luke omits this contrast because it was unnecessary for the Gentile believers for whom Luke is writing.

Another point of contrast between Matthew and Luke's presentation is the terminology. In Luke, Jesus contrasts the behavior of his followers with the behavior of “sinners.” In Matthew, Jesus contrasts the behavior desired with the behavior of tax collectors and Gentiles. Matthew concludes the teaching about love of enemies with the admonition to be perfect as God is perfect; Luke concludes by emphasizing God's mercy.

In both Gospels, Jesus' words challenge those who would follow him to be more like God. God loves us beyond our expectations, beyond anything we can possibly imagine. In response to God's love, we are to love as God loves, beyond expectations and with a depth beyond imagining.

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

Gospel Reading
Luke 6:27-38
Jesus teaches his disciples to be merciful as God is merciful.

Generosity, empathy, and compassion are traits we want to develop in younger children. Teaching children to treat others as they want to be treated supports them in developing these traits.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: Let’s think for a moment about how we want people to treat us. Ask: If your friend had a great new toy or game, would you want him or her to let you play with it? (Yes.) If you made a bad choice at home and said sorry, what would you want your parents to say and do? (Accept all reasonable answers, such as, say “I forgive you,” or give me a hug.) Say: In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us how we are to treat others. Listen carefully to what he says.
  2. Read aloud today’s Gospel, Luke 6:27–38.
  3. Say: Jesus calls us to treat others in the way we want to be treated. This is the Golden Rule. Earlier we talked about how we wanted to be treated. Now let’s think about how we can treat others. Ask: Do you think others might want us to share our new toys or games with them? (Yes.) Do other people make poor choices sometimes, just like we might? (Yes.) How might we respond if someone makes a poor choice and says sorry? (Forgive the person. Be kind.) Say: We follow Jesus’ command when we love and forgive all people, even when it’s hard.
  4. Pray together that Jesus will help us have a loving and forgiving heart and treat others as we want to be treated.

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

Gospel Reading
Luke 6:27-38
Jesus teaches his disciples to be merciful as God is merciful.

Older children are becoming more capable of weighing their actions and choices against a moral framework. We can help them understand that our call to be merciful as God is merciful is a call to act in ways that exceed expectations.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the children to identify things that are expected of them every day such as doing their homework, completing household chores, and behaving appropriately at school and at home. Ask: Is it easy to live up to these expectations? Why or why not?

  2. Ask: Have you ever heard the phrase “go the extra mile”? What does it mean? (to do more than expected) What would it mean to go the extra mile in regard to the expectations we identified? Help the children identify specific examples of what it would mean to exceed expectations in the tasks they named. (Examples: doing extra credit on a homework assignment, doing a household chore ahead of schedule.) Invite volunteers to talk about their experiences of going the extra mile.

  3. Say: In the Gospel, Jesus describes how we are to behave toward one another. He tells us how to make good choices. What he says may sound like what we mean by the phrase “going the extra mile.” Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Read aloud today's Gospel, Luke 6:27-38.

  5. Ask: How does Jesus say that we should behave with one another? (Do good even to those who hurt you. Do to others as you would have them do to you. Forgive and you will be forgiven.) Are these the responses that people expect? (No.)

  6. Say: In the Gospel, Jesus says that we are to make choices based on God's standard. God doesn't just forgive us one time. God forgives us over and over again. God doesn't show love to us just one time; God shows love all the time. God goes the extra mile for us. Jesus tells us that we are to go the extra mile for others.

  7. Conclude in prayer by praying together the Prayer of St. Francis.

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Gospel Reading
Luke 6:27-38
Jesus teaches his disciples to be merciful as God is merciful.

Young people today face significant moral challenges. As they face these challenges, we can support them by reminding them about mercy, a primary quality of God.

Materials Needed

  • Two wrapped boxes

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Wrap two boxes. Wrap one with gift wrap and a bow and put a note inside that says One try only. Wrap the other with newspaper and put a note inside that says As many tries as you'd like. Bring the wrapped boxes to class.

  2. Ask the young people which box they would choose. Have them stand near the box of their choice. Then have someone from each group open the box and read the note inside. Say: Sometimes when we make choices, we don't get what we expect, and we wish we could choose again.

  3. Present to the young people some situations that they might face that require a moral choice (Examples: You are teased by classmates and must decide how to respond; a friend ran out of time to do his or her homework and asks you to share your answers; your parents ask you to watch a younger sibling on Saturday night.) Say: We experience situations like these every day. Ask: Have you ever wished that you could have another chance and choose a different course of action? (Allow volunteers to share such experiences.) It is not uncommon to wish for another chance when facing the decisions we must make each day.

  4. Say: In the Gospel, Jesus describes many opportunities that we will have to make good moral choices. The moral choices that Jesus describes, however, sound like they might be difficult to choose. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  5. Read aloud today's Gospel, Luke 6:27-38.

  6. Ask: How does Jesus say that we should behave with one another? (Do good even to those who hurt you. Do to others as you would have them do to you. Forgive and you will be forgiven.) Do we often choose to act in these ways? Why or why not?

  7. Say: This Gospel tells us that God gives us unlimited chances to act in loving ways toward others. We know that God shows mercy to us by forgiving us and by giving us another chance to choose to follow his ways. God wants us to be merciful just as he is merciful. This means that God expects us to give each other unlimited chances.

  8. Conclude in prayer by praying together St. Ignatius's Prayer for Generosity.

Family Connection

It is easy to choose to be with others when they are acting politely and respectfully. But children do not always act this way, especially with other family members. We can probably all recall a family meal in which such behavior was not observed. Yet we probably chose to sit through the meal anyway. We regularly give our children second chances—and often third and fourth chances—hoping that our generosity will be rewarded. That is how God acts with us. The ethic that Jesus describes seems like an impossible task: to give when asked and to do good to those who hate us. Yet family life is filled with opportunities to act generously and to love without measure. This is what we parents try to do every day. This is what we ask our children to learn. We are reminded that when we love generously and gratuitously, we love as God loves us. This is the meaning of mercy.

As you gather as a family, identify some things that family members are expected to do each day (prepare meals, go to school or work; complete homework assignments, complete household chores, behave appropriately at school, at work and at home; and so on). Discuss whether it is easy to live up to these expectations. Why or why not? Then discuss the meaning of the phrase “go the extra mile” and what it would mean to go the extra mile in the expectations you identified. Introduce today's Gospel: In today's Gospel reading, Jesus describes how we are to act toward one another. What he says may sound like what we mean by the phrase “going the extra mile.” Read aloud today's Gospel, Luke 6:27-38. Discuss whether the actions Jesus describes are easy and consider why we might act in these ways if they seem difficult. Observe that today's Gospel challenges us to make choices based on God's standard; God loves us all the time by going the extra mile for us. During a time of quiet reflection, invite each family member to choose an action for the week in which he or she will go the “extra mile” for the family. Conclude in prayer by praying together St. Ignatius's Prayer for Generosity.