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 in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Sunday, August 18, 2019


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Jeremiah 38:4-6,8-10
Jeremiah is punished for criticizing the wealthy for their corruption and their injustice to the poor.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 40:2-4,18
A prayer for God's help

Second Reading
Hebrews 12:1-4
Let us persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Gospel Reading
Luke 12:49-53
Jesus has come not only to bring peace but also division.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Having reminded the apostles and the crowd that facing the coming judgment takes patience, Jesus now goes on to speak of how difficult it will be to wait. He tells them that he has come to set the earth on fire. Recall that in chapter 3 of Luke's Gospel, John the Baptist tells the crowd that he is baptizing with water, but someone mightier is coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. The fire Jesus speaks of here is the distress caused by the coming judgment. It is also the fire of the Spirit that Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, will describe descending on the disciples on Pentecost. That fire will strengthen them to go out to the whole world to preach the good news of Jesus' Resurrection.

Jesus will be the first to experience the distress of the coming judgment. His baptism will be the conflict into which he will be immersed as he approaches Jerusalem and his death on the cross. His followers will not be spared that distress. The angels at Jesus' birth proclaimed peace on earth, and Simeon, holding the baby Jesus in the Temple, said to God: “Master, now you may let your servant go in peace.” Here Jesus tells the crowd not to think he has come to bring peace; he has come to bring division. Simeon said as much when he turned to Mary and said that the child was destined for the rise and fall of many and to be a sign that will be contradicted. Peace is the ultimate end of the Kingdom of God, but peace has a price. Jesus is warning the crowd that wherever the Word of God is heard and acted upon, division occurs. Fathers will be divided against sons and mothers against daughters.

The coming judgment forces us to look at the implications of our commitments. As Jesus warned in last Sunday's Gospel, a commitment of faith requires us to change our attitude toward material possessions and to take even more seriously our moral responsibilities. Here he reminds the crowd that those who commit to him will find it affects the way they relate to friends and family members. The angel who announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah said John would go before Jesus to turn the hearts of fathers toward their children. But a commitment to Jesus forces us to change the way we live our lives, and this can put strains on relationships.

We don't expect to hear such difficult words from Jesus in the Gospel. But it is good to be reminded once in a while that the decision to do the right thing, the good thing, is not always easy and without conflict. Jesus himself did not make easy decisions and avoid conflict. In today's reading, he reminds his followers to be prepared for difficult decisions and conflict as well.


Gospel Reading
Luke 12:49-53
Jesus has come not only to bring peace but also division.


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

Younger children are learning about right and wrong. Teach them that Jesus calls us to make good choices and do what is right even when it is difficult.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: Let’s do some imagining together. Imagine that you have a friend named Alex. You’re playing with Alex and a group of other children at the park one day when you see your new neighbor, Sam. You like Sam a lot. But your friend Alex tells you, “I don't want Sam to play with us. If you ask Sam to play, I won’t be your friend anymore.”
  2. Say: You have a hard choice to make. Think about what Jesus teaches us about right and wrong and good choices. Is it right to leave out Sam? (Accept reasonable responses, reminding children that Jesus teaches us to include others.) If we do what’s right and include Sam, how might Alex respond? (Accept reasonable responses.) Say: Doing what’s right isn’t always easy. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that following him can sometimes be hard. 
  3. Read aloud Luke 12:49–53.
  4. Say: Jesus invites us to live in peace. But he also calls us to make good choices and do what is right. Being Jesus’ follower means we wouldn’t make a bad choice just to make someone else happy. We wouldn’t leave out someone because another friend asks us to. Ask: Can you think of another example of something you wouldn’t do or say just because a friend wanted you to? (Accept all reasonable responses.)
  5. Say: Following Jesus might be hard sometimes, but making good choices helps us be closer to God and have peaceful hearts and minds. 
  6. Close by praying that you will make good choices even when it is hard.


Gospel Reading
Luke 12:49-53
Jesus has come not only to bring peace but also division.


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

Children at this age are keenly aware of being included and excluded from peer groups. Use this Sunday's Gospel as an opportunity to talk about the challenge of doing the right thing even when it turns out to be the “road less traveled.”

Materials Needed

  • A copy of Robert Frost's poem “The Road Less Traveled”

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Have a volunteer read aloud the Robert Frost poem “The Road Less Traveled.”

  2. Ask the children to describe what they think the title means. (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Ask: What is the speaker facing? (a difficult decision, a dilemma)

  4. Write the word dilemma on the board and ask volunteers to explain what the word means. (a choice between two seemingly equal and undesirable alternatives)

  5. Ask: What might taking "the road less traveled by" mean to kids your age? (choosing the less popular option, saying no to peer pressure, not always going with the group and so on)

  6. Say: In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus is telling us that when we make the decision to follow him, we may face opposition from our peers including our family and friends.

  7. Invite volunteers to read aloud Luke 12:49-53

  8. Ask: What image does Jesus use to describe the difficulties we may face when following him? (fire) Say: Fire is very frightening because of the great harm it can cause. In a similar way, we can be very frightened at the prospect of going against the crowd and making a decision that will be unpopular.

  9. Give an example such as having a sleepover with friends on a Saturday night and telling them that you plan to get up early on Sunday morning to go to Mass when they want to sleep late. Ask the children to offer other examples.

  10. Referring back to the poem, ask: Why might taking this road end up making all the difference? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  11. Say: Following Jesus, even though difficult at times, makes all the difference because it is the way that leads to eternal life with God!

  12. Tell the children that it is through the Holy Spirit that we receive the gift of courage (fortitude) that helps us to remain strong when making decisions that might be unpopular with others.

  13. Conclude with a spontaneous prayer asking the Holy Spirit for the gift of courage (fortitude).


Gospel Reading
Luke 12:49-53
Jesus has come not only to bring peace but also division.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people desperately seek peer approval. This Sunday's Gospel is challenging on many levels but is most helpful to this age group when approached within the context of understanding peer pressure.

Materials Needed

  • Masking tape
  • The following signs: “10: I Strongly Agree”; “5: I'm in the Middle”; and “1: I Strongly Disagree”

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Use masking tape to make a long line on the floor. Put a sign on one end that says “10: I Strongly Agree” and a sign on the opposite end saying, “1: I Strongly Disagree.” You may also want to put a sign that says “5: I'm in the Middle” in the middle of the line.

  2. Explain to the students that sometimes it takes a strong will and a lot of courage to go against one's peers.

  3. Ask a volunteer to take a stand on a controversial issue. For example: “Teens shouldn't need their parents' permission to buy CDs with explicit lyrics on them” or “I think it's perfectly OK to copy someone else's homework.”
  4. Have the volunteer stand at the point on the line that indicates his or her position on the issue.

  5. Have the rest of the students try to pressure the volunteer into moving by making compelling arguments for or against the issue. Encourage them to be persistent.

  6. After a few minutes, ask the volunteer to describe how he or she felt being under pressure. Say: Peer pressure is a very powerful motivating force. It's not easy to go against the crowd. In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus tells us that following him will often cause us to go against the crowd.

  7. Invite volunteers to read aloud Luke 12:49-53.

  8. Ask volunteers to repeat a line from the Gospel that they can recall.

  9. Say: We don't expect to hear such difficult words from Jesus in the Gospel. But it is good to be reminded once in a while that the decision to do the right thing, the good thing, is not always easy and without conflict. In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus reminds his followers to be prepared for difficult decisions that will bring them into conflict with those closest to them.

  10. Tell the students that it is through the Holy Spirit that we receive the gift of courage (fortitude) that helps us to remain strong when making decisions that might be unpopular with others. 
  11.  Conclude with a spontaneous prayer asking the Holy Spirit for the gift of courage (fortitude).

 


Gospel Reading
Luke 12:49-53
Jesus has come not only to bring peace but also division.


Family Connection

Families strive for unity and togetherness. Nobody enjoys occasions when divisions in family life become all too evident. Yet, in this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus says that he has come to bring division and that members of households will be divided.

Talk as a family about the things that you do together to bring about family unity (togetherness), such as sharing meals, going to church together, celebrating special occasions, or sharing family traditions. Explain that all of these things are important and that Jesus wants families to show this kind of love for one another. Point out that this Sunday's Gospel sounds as though Jesus is saying something very different. Tell your children to listen closely as you read aloud Luke 12:49-53.

Explain that sometimes as parents, you have to make decisions that are unpopular with your children. You don't do it to divide the family but because it is the right thing to do. In the short run, such decisions may “divide” children from their parents. In the long run, however, doing the right thing will bring about a deeper unity. Talk to your children about decisions that they have to make that might be unpopular with their friends and how these decisions may divide them from others. Encourage them to pray to the Holy Spirit for the gift of courage (fortitude) so that they may do the right thing even if unpopular. Conclude by praying a spontaneous prayer to the Holy Spirit, asking for the gift of courage (fortitude).