Sunday Connection

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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.


Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Sunday, August 19, 2018


This Sunday’s Readings


First Reading
Proverbs 9:1-6
Wisdom has set a feast before us.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 34:2-3,4-5,6-7
A prayer of praise to God for his goodness

Second Reading
Ephesians 5:15-20
Filled with the Spirit, Christians strive to follow the will of the Lord.

Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58
Jesus teaches that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will live forever.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On this Sunday, we continue to read from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. Today’s Gospel elaborates further on the teaching that Jesus began in our liturgy last week. In that reading, the crowds wondered about how Jesus could say that he had come down from heaven because they knew Jesus to be the son of Joseph. In this Gospel, some have difficulty with Jesus’ teaching that he is the living bread sent from God. Recall that Jesus had told them that just as God gave the Israelites manna to sustain them in the desert, so now God has sent new manna that will give eternal life. We hear the concluding verse of last week’s Gospel repeated in today’s reading: Jesus himself is the bread sent by God; Jesus’ flesh is the bread that is given for the life of the world.

Among the stumbling blocks for those who heard but did not understand Jesus is the teaching that the bread that Jesus will give is his own flesh. In response to the people who quarreled over his words, Jesus teaches with even greater emphasis that salvation comes to those who eat his Body and Blood. Jesus doesn’t seem to answer the question posed about how salvation will come about, perhaps because this reality can only be understood after his death and Resurrection. Instead, Jesus teaches about the life that he will give to the world.

To many ears, Jesus’ words are jarring and difficult to hear. Many who heard Jesus could not accept what he said. Many today continue to struggle to accept these words. But they are important words because they reveal our intimate connection with Jesus.

This is the mystery that is at the heart of our eucharistic theology. In the elements of bread and wine, Jesus’ Body and Blood are made truly present. When we share in the Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus himself comes to dwell within us. This communion with the Lord makes us one body, brings us eternal life, and sends us forth to be Christ’s body for the life of the world.


Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58
Jesus teaches that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will live forever.


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

Young children are still learning the concepts that lie behind the words of our faith. Their experiences with the community of faith can enable them to comprehend the importance of the Eucharist and of Jesus’ promise of eternal life to all those who partake of his Body and Blood.

Materials Needed

  • A box of cereal
  • A box of raisins

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Bring to class a box of cereal and a box of raisins. Cover the pictures on the boxes with construction paper. Read the labels and ask the group to try to identify the contents of the box based on the label. Pour some from each box into a bowl to show the class.

  2. Say: Sometimes we can tell what an item is by the ingredients listed on the box [Hold up the bowl of raisins.] and sometimes if we don’t see the picture on the box, the ingredients don’t give us a clue about the contents. [Hold up the bowl of cereal.]

  3. Say: In the Gospel this week, Jesus talks about how he will give the people bread to eat that will give eternal life. What is bread made of? (wheat) What is wine made from? (grapes) In today’s reading, Jesus says that he will give the people living bread. They think he means the kind of bread that is made from wheat. But he is talking about something else. Let’s listen carefully to today’s Gospel.

  4. Read aloud today’s Gospel, John 6:51-58.

  5. Ask: What did Jesus tell the people that he would give them? (living bread, his flesh and blood, as food and drink) Say: Jesus said that the bread and wine that he would give would really be his Body and Blood. And unlike regular bread and wine, which can nourish us for only a time, his Body and Blood will make us live forever. This may be hard to understand. [Show the cereal box.] But if we believe the people who make this cereal that these are the true ingredients, then surely we can believe that Jesus, who is God, is the true bread and wine.

  6. Let us pray together that we will believe Jesus’ words and his promise of eternal life. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer or today’s psalm.


Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58
Jesus teaches that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will live forever.


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

As the children’s familiarity with the Mass increases, so too can their knowledge and experience of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. We invite children to this communion with the Lord when we reflect with them on the importance of the gift of the Eucharist in our lives.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the group to identify as many different forms of bread as they can think of (white bread, wheat bread, bagels, English muffins, pitas, tortillas, and so on).

  2. Ask: Why do we eat bread? What does bread do for us? (Bread is nourishment; bread sustains us; eating bread fills us.)

  3. Say: Bread is a staple of our diet, as it was for people in Jesus’ time. Today’s Gospel reading talks about the bread that Jesus gives us. This reading is taken from the Gospel of John, which we have been hearing at Sunday Mass for the past several weeks. We’ll understand today’s Gospel better if we review these readings.

  4. Say: Remember that a crowd of people had gathered to hear Jesus, and Jesus had blessed five barley loaves and two fish; there was enough to feed over five thousand people. Many people came to believe that Jesus came from God because of that miracle. The next day, the crowd continued to follow Jesus, and many wanted to see him perform another miracle. Instead, Jesus talks with them about the miracle, the sign, he had performed. Many people who hear him are not sure how to receive his words.

  5. Say: Let’s listen to the Gospel for today and see what it tells us about the bread that Jesus gives.

  6. Invite a volunteer to read aloud today’s Gospel, John 6:51-58.

  7. Ask: What kind of bread does Jesus say he will give? (living bread) Where does this living bread come from? (heaven) What will this bread do for those who eat it? (It will bring them eternal life; Jesus will come to live in those who eat this bread.) What else does Jesus say about this bread? (Jesus says that this living bread is his flesh, given for the life of the world.) What do you think Jesus is talking about? (the Eucharist)

  8. Say: In today’s reading, Jesus is telling us about the special gift he gives us in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. When we share in the Eucharist, Jesus is present to us; through Holy Communion we will share eternal life.

  9. Conclude in prayer together thanking God for the gift of the Eucharist. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer or today’s psalm.


Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58
Jesus teaches that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will live forever.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people observe in our culture an interest in prolonging human life and in seeking immortality. We can teach them that Jesus promised us eternal life—not an extension of our earthly existence, but a life with God forever.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: There are people who expend a lot of time and energy trying to prolong their life. Why do you think people want to live for a long time? Do you think it would be a good thing to live forever? Why or why not? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: Jesus talks about the gift of eternal life in today’s Gospel. By this, he didn’t mean that we would live forever as we do now. Let’s listen to this Gospel and talk about what Jesus meant when he promised us the gift of eternal life.

  3. Invite a volunteer to read aloud today’s Gospel, John 6:51-58.

  4. Ask: What does Jesus say one must do to live forever? (Eat the bread that he will give.) What does Jesus say about this bread that will give eternal life? (It comes from heaven; it is Jesus’ flesh given for the life of the world.) What will this bread do for those who eat it? (It will bring them eternal life; Jesus will come to live in those who eat this bread.) What do you think Jesus is talking about? (the Eucharist)

  5. Say: In today’s reading, Jesus is telling us about the special gift he gives us in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the bread and the wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. When we share in the Eucharist, Jesus makes himself one with us. This is what eternal life means, being with God and Jesus forever.

  6. Conclude in prayer together thanking God for the gift of the Eucharist. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer or today’s psalm.


Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58
Jesus teaches that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will live forever.


Family Connection

Our faith teaches us that when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus himself is present to us. Through the actions of the Mass, the bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Christ. This is what we mean by the word transubstantiation. Jesus makes himself present to all who receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

If there are children in your family who have already celebrated their First Communion, invite them to share their memories of this special day. If you have family photos from this occasion, bring them out and share them. Adults in the family may also share memories or photos of their First Communion. Then read together today’s Gospel, John 6:51-58. Reflect together on what Jesus means when he calls himself the “living bread.” Recall that every time we receive the Eucharist, Jesus keeps the promise he made in today’s Gospel. Perhaps family members can share what it means for them to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Together, thank God for this gift of Holy Communion. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer or today’s psalm.