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.


Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, October 21, 2018


This Sunday’s Readings


First Reading
Isaiah 53:10-11
Through his suffering, the servant of Yahweh will justify many.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 33:4-5,18-19,20,22
A prayer of praise for God’s mercy

Second Reading
Hebrews 4:14-16
Jesus is the high priest who sympathizes with our weakness.

Gospel Reading
Mark 10:35-45 (shorter form Mark 10:42-45)
Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we continue to read from the section of Mark’s Gospel that reports Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. Last Sunday we heard Jesus lament the particular challenges those with many possessions face in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus then predicts his passion to the Twelve, who are amazed and afraid. In this part of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ words to his closest disciples seem to be intended to prepare them for the events that will occur in Jerusalem.

In today’s Gospel, James and John ask to be given seats of honor when Jesus enters into his glory. Once again, the disciples seem to be selective in what they hear Jesus say. They want to share Jesus’ glory, but do not appear to understand that his glory will be preceded by his suffering. Jesus notes their lack of understanding and predicts the suffering they will endure for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus says that the honor they seek is not his to give. When the other ten hear what James and John have asked, Mark reports that they are indignant. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach them.

Jesus explains the importance of service and sacrifice in the life of a disciple. In particular, he seems to be preparing the Twelve for their leadership roles in the emerging Christian community. Echoing the Gospel we heard several weeks ago (on the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Mark 9:33-37), Jesus acknowledges that his teaching is countercultural. In today’s Gospel, Jesus contrasts the dynamics within the community of disciples with those shown by the rulers of the Gentiles.

Following Jesus’ example of sacrificial love continues to be countercultural in our day as well. We might take this opportunity to consider our models of authority and examine our own exercise of authority. On whose example do we model our leadership? 


Gospel Reading
Mark 10:35-45 (shorter form Mark 10:42-45)
Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.


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

Young children in these grades are becoming increasingly sensitive to the needs of others. We can nurture children’s compassion and kindness by helping them recognize ways they already help others and explore ways they can help in the future.

Materials Needed

  • printed pictures (found online) of a baby eating alone (with food on his or her face), a child looking sad or lonely, a child carrying a lot of books, and an adult setting the table

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Bring the pictures to class. Show the picture of the baby. Say: Everyone needs help sometimes. Babies need help doing everyday things until they learn to do them on their own. What help does this baby need? (The baby might need help using a spoon, being cleaned up, and being lifted out of the high chair.)
  2. Show the other pictures. Ask children what kinds of help the people need and how children might provide it. Discuss how we sometimes help others because they are unhappy or afraid (the sad child), because they have a need (the child carrying books), or just to be kind (the adult setting the table). Say: Being a helper is a way to show that we care for others, just as Jesus cares for us. Jesus calls helpers “servants.” Let’s learn about how Jesus wants us to be servants.
  3. Read the shorter form of today’s Gospel: Mark 10:42–45.
  4. Ask: Does Jesus say we are to be great by being a ruler or a servant? (by being a servant) What are some ways that you have helped your friends and family? (Accept all reasonable responses.) How might we serve people in need in our community? (Go with our parents to volunteer at a fund-raiser or visit an elderly parishioner, donate clothes, etc.)
  5. Say: As Jesus’ followers, we have the eyes and ears and heart of a servant. We look and listen for ways we can help people, and we treat them with love and care. If we aren’t sure how to help, we can ask. Asking, “How can I help you today?” is a way to be a loving servant. Let’s plan to ask someone, “How can I help you?” this week. You can tell me what happened!
  6. Close by praying together prayers of petition. Invite children to think of a person or group of people who might need help. Pray together, “God, we ask you to watch over ____,” and invite volunteers to take turns quietly naming the person or people. Close by praying together Amen.


Gospel Reading
Mark 10:35-45 (shorter form Mark 10:42-45)
Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.


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

In our culture, achievement is recognized through awards, prizes and other symbols of honor. Jesus teaches us that greatness in the Kingdom of God will be achieved through sacrifice and loving service.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: What honors do young people sometimes earn for their activities and achievements? (honor roll, trophies for sports programs, prizes for contests) What symbols might we be given for these honors? (public recognition, trophies, ribbons, prizes)

  2. Say: In today’s Gospel, James and John seek a place of honor in the Kingdom of God. Listen carefully to this Gospel and let’s see if we can identify what is the symbol of this place of honor.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today’s Gospel, Mark 10:35-45.

  4. Ask: What is the symbol of the honor that James and John seek? (a seat at Jesus’ side when he comes in glory) What does Jesus say will be required of the people who will receive such an honor? (to suffer in the same way that Jesus will suffer) What is Jesus’ answer to James and John? (that Jesus cannot give them the honor that they seek)

  5. Say: In the words that follow, Jesus teaches his disciples what it will take to be great in the Kingdom of God. What does Jesus say? (that those who wish to be first in God’s kingdom must be the servants of others)

  6. Ask: What are some honors that are given to those who serve others? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Do you think that people serve others in order to win prizes? (Probably not.) Then why do you think people spend their lives serving the needs of others? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  7. Conclude by praying that we may receive honor in God’s eyes by learning to serve others in love. Pray together the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis.


Gospel Reading
Mark 10:35-45 (shorter form Mark 10:42-45)
Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

We teach young people leadership by offering them opportunities to take responsibility for projects and tasks. Using these experiences, we can mentor young people into an understanding that Christian leadership is shown in service to others.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask: Have you ever been put in charge of a project or been given responsibility for the care of others? What was it like to be the person in charge? Did others follow your direction? Did any conflicts emerge? If so, how did you handle them? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What are some things that you said or did to influence those in your care? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: When we are in charge of something, there is a temptation to exercise our authority in ways that show our power over others. Especially when conflicts emerge, many of us rely upon the power we believe our role gives us. Jesus teaches us that there is a more persuasive form of leadership.

  3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today’s Gospel, Mark 10:35-45.

  4. Ask: What is the symbol of the honor that James and John seek? (a seat at Jesus’ side when he comes in glory) What does Jesus say will be required of the people who will receive such an honor? (to suffer in the same way that Jesus will suffer) What is Jesus’ answer to James and John? (that Jesus cannot give them the honor they seek)

  5. Say: In the words that follow, Jesus teaches his disciples what it will take to be great in the Kingdom of God. What does Jesus say? (that those who wish to be first in God’s kingdom must be the servant of all)

  6. Ask: When we are in a position of authority, how might we exercise our power in a way that serves others? Who are models of this kind of leadership? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  7. Conclude by praying that we may receive honor in God’s eyes by learning to serve others in love. Pray together the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis.


Gospel Reading
Mark 10:35-45 (shorter form Mark 10:42-45)
Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.


Family Connection

In the daily routine of family life, power struggles seem unavoidable. Whenever two or more people live together, there will be occasions of disagreement and attempts to exert influence over each other. Today’s Gospel can be an invitation to consider how authority is exercised in your household. There is a temptation to exercise our authority in ways that show our power over others. Especially when conflicts emerge, many of us rely upon the power we believe our role gives to us. Jesus teaches us that there is a more persuasive form of leadership. In these daily challenges we have the opportunity to practice and teach the kind of service and leadership Jesus modeled for us in his ministry and in his passion and death.

As you gather as a family, invite family members to participate in a role play in which family roles are reversed. For example, you might assign children the role of parents putting their children to bed with parents acting like the children. Or you may have them role play parents asking for cooperation from children to clean up the family room. When the role play is finished, ask if it was an accurate picture of how this situation usually plays out in your household. Does everyone cooperate when asked? What happens when someone doesn’t cooperate? How are the conflicts that emerge resolved? Observe that conflicts based on power struggles in situations such as these seem unavoidable in family life. In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches how Christians are to show their authority over others. Read together today’s Gospel, Mark 10:35-45. After reading the Gospel, talk with your family about Jesus’ unique message to his disciples about how they are to exercise authority. Talk about ways in which you might apply Jesus’ words in your family life. Conclude by praying we may receive honor in God’s eyes by learning to serve others in love. Pray together the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis.