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.


Fifth Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

Sunday, April 29, 2018


This Sunday’s Readings


First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 9:26-31
Paul is accepted by the apostles at Jerusalem.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 22:26-27,28,30,31-32
The whole world shall praise the Lord.

Second Reading
1 John 3:18-24
God commands us to believe in Jesus Christ and to love one another.

Gospel Reading
John 15:1-8
Jesus teaches that he is the vine and that his disciples are the branches.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s reading from the Gospel of John is part of Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper. Recall that John tells the story of Jesus’ Last Supper differently from the other Evangelists. In John’s Gospel, the Last Supper begins with Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Jesus then provides them with a series of instructions. We call this section the Last Supper discourse or Jesus’ farewell discourse. In these chapters of John’s Gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples about the importance of following his example of love and service, about the gift they will receive when Jesus sends them the Holy Spirit, and about their relationship with Jesus and with the world. The Last Supper discourse concludes with Jesus’ prayer for his disciples.

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from middle of the Last Supper discourse. Jesus speaks about his relationship to his disciples. In his metaphor of the vine and the branches, Jesus is referencing the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Hebrew Scriptures, Israel is the vineyard, and Yahweh himself tends the vineyard. One of the primary themes of John’s Gospel is to show Jesus to be the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel.

In this passage, Jesus teaches his disciples that his relationship with them will not end after his death; he will remain with them always. This unity between Jesus and his disciples is the basis for their ability to continue to do the work that he began. Similarly, Jesus’ presence with us through the Gift of the Holy Spirit enables us to continue the work of love and reconciliation that he began.

Jesus also teaches his disciples about the importance of the words he has taught to them. Just as Jesus will remain in the disciples, so too will his words. We come to know Jesus through the Scriptures, the living Word of God. Our commitment to be Christ’s disciples is sustained through God’s Word. This commitment is also strengthened by our life of prayer and nourished by the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist, Jesus dwells in us, remains with us, and transforms us so that we might bear fruit in his name.

We observe many people who act in ways that show their commitment to serve their neighbor. Christians and non-Christians feed the hungry, care for the sick, shelter the homeless, and give alms to the poor. These actions become acts of Christian discipleship when they are motivated by our relationship with Jesus. Whatever the immediate results, Jesus promises us that these actions will bear fruit when we undertake them in his name.


Gospel Reading
John 15:1-8
Jesus teaches that he is the vine and that his disciples are the branches.


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

Young children have a natural desire to please others and to do what is good. We can teach them that all of their good deeds are the result of God working in their lives.

Materials Needed

  • Several crayons of different colors
  • Paper
  • Hand mirror

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Draw on a sheet of paper a wavy line with crayon. Hold a hand mirror in front of the wavy line and use a book to block the view of the paper. Then ask a volunteer to try to trace the line, using only the reflection in the mirror. Have the volunteer use a different crayon color to show the difficulty in trying to trace the line.

  2. Explain to the children that in a way, this exercise is like something that happens in our everyday lives. Say: It is difficult to stay on the right path and to do good things on our own. We cannot rely on what seems right because we can’t always see clearly without God’s help. God can remove the obstacles so that we can see what we need to do. (Remove the mirror and the book.) If we ask God for his help and if we are willing to do what he asks, then we will be able to do all sorts of good things.

  3. Ask the volunteer to use another crayon color to try to trace the line again, this time without the obstacles.

  4. Read aloud today’s Gospel, John 15:1-8

  5. Ask: What does Jesus tell us will help our good deeds to bear fruit? (our relationship with Jesus) Say: We strengthen our relationship with Jesus when we listen carefully to Scripture, when we pray daily, and when we celebrate the Eucharist.

  6. Conclude in prayer together, asking God to keep us rooted in Jesus. Pray together the Prayer of Saint Richard of Chichester (adapted for children).


Gospel Reading
John 15:1-8
Jesus teaches that he is the vine and that his disciples are the branches.


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

Young people are beginning to appreciate the fact that our life of discipleship is based upon our relationship to Jesus. We can teach them that this relationship is strengthened through reading Scripture, through prayer, and most especially in our communion with Jesus in the Eucharist.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Write on the board the word expert. Ask: What makes a person an expert in his or her field? Invite a volunteer to write on the board the responses. Say: If someone wants to gain knowledge about science, medicine, history, or other subjects, he or she might turn to an expert. And this makes sense. When we want to gain knowledge, we turn to someone who has studied and learned about our area of interest.

  2. Say: But let’s say we want to find out what it means to be a Christian. What expertise might we look for? What makes someone an “expert” Christian? Invite the young people to share their ideas.

  3. Say: These are all good ideas. Let’s hear what Jesus says because Jesus was very specific about what would make a person an expert disciple. He teaches about this in today’s Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today’s Gospel, John 15:1-8.

  5. Ask: How does Jesus say we will recognize an expert disciple, or Christian? (He or she will bear fruit.) What do you think Jesus means by this? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What does Jesus say will allow a person to bear this kind of fruit? (his or her relationship with Jesus)

  6. Say: People become good disciples of Jesus because of their relationship with him. We develop this relationship with Jesus through our reading of Scripture and our life of prayer. But most especially, Jesus promises us that he will remain in us and that we will be his disciples when we share his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

  7. Conclude in prayer, asking God to help us remain faithful to our relationship with Jesus. Pray together the Prayer of Saint Richard of Chichester.


Gospel Reading
John 15:1-8
Jesus teaches that he is the vine and that his disciples are the branches.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

An important part of ministry with young people is helping them understand that their relationship with Jesus is the foundation for the life of discipleship. We can teach them that this relationship is strengthened through reading Scripture, through prayer, and most especially in our communion with Jesus in the Eucharist.

Materials Needed

  • Paper, pens

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Distribute paper and pens and ask the young people to make a list of 10 things they would like to learn to do well, for example, developing proficiency in specific sports, hobbies, or academics. Assure them that this list is for their eyes only. Then ask them to choose one item on the list and write steps they can take now to help them master this skill.

  2. Say: As Christians, we want to be good disciples of Jesus. This Sunday’s Gospel reading helps us know what will make us good disciples. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel reading.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read this Sunday’s Gospel, John 15:1–8.

  4. Ask: What will a disciple of Jesus do? (bear much fruit) What do you think Jesus means by this? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What does Jesus say will allow a person to bear this kind of fruit? (their relationship with Jesus)

  5. Say: Our relationship with Jesus, the true vine, strengthens us to be disciples, who bear good fruit and give glory to God.  This relationship is strengthened when we read Scripture, when we pray, and especially when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion. 

  6. Invite the young people to choose an action for this week that will show their desire to strengthen their relationship with Jesus.

  7. Conclude in prayer, asking God to help us remain faithful to our relationship with Jesus. Pray together the Prayer of Saint Richard of Chichester or the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 22.


Gospel Reading
John 15:1-8
Jesus teaches that he is the vine and that his disciples are the branches.


Family Connection

The goal of our life of prayer is to increase our awareness that Jesus lives with us always. Prayer is more than a dialogue with God; prayer is a lifting of our minds and hearts to God so that God might dwell and act within us and through us. The pinnacle of our life of prayer is our communion with Jesus in the Eucharist. Through this sacrament, we receive Jesus himself, and he remains with us. Our life of prayer and our union with Jesus will lead us to fruitful service to others.

Place a plant in your gathering space. Invite everyone to look at the plant, noting the connection between the plant and its leaves. Talk about the integral connection between all the parts of a healthy plant. Introduce today’s Gospel by saying that Jesus talked about his relationship to his disciples using this metaphor. Read today’s Gospel, John 15:1-8. Talk about the ways in which we are invited to relate to Jesus as his disciples today—prayer, Scripture, the Eucharist, and so on. When we do these things, Jesus promises to remain with us and to lead us to serve others well. Pray together that we will continue to be attentive and open to Jesus as he works in our lives today. Pray together the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love.