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.


Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Sunday, January 20, 2019


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Isaiah 62:1-5
God delights in Israel and will rejoice as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 96:1-2,2-3,7-8,9-10
A song in praise of God's marvelous deeds

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
All spiritual gifts originate from the same Spirit.

Gospel Reading
John 2:1-11
Jesus performs his first sign at a wedding feast in Cana.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday we begin the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. For many Sundays in this lectionary cycle (Cycle C), our readings will be taken from the Gospel of Luke. Occasionally, however, we will read from John's Gospel. This is true of today's Gospel reading, which describes the beginning of Jesus' ministry and his first miracle.

To situate today's reading within the context of John's Gospel, we note that John's report of this event follows Jesus' call of his first disciples. John tells us that Jesus and his disciples were invited to this wedding at Cana, as was Jesus' mother, Mary. There is no parallel report of this miracle at Cana in the Synoptic Gospels.

In the Church's liturgical history, the wedding feast of Cana is closely associated with the baptism of the Lord and the adoration of the infant Jesus by the Wise Men. In this context, the sign Jesus performs at the wedding feast is celebrated as an epiphany or a manifestation of Jesus' divinity.

Yet awareness of Jesus' impending passion and death is ever present in John's Gospel. Even in this report of Jesus' first sign, the language used anticipates Jesus' passion. When Jesus says to his mother that his hour has not yet come, he protests against her wishes in language that John will use again when reporting Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples. When introducing the story of Jesus washing his disciples' feet, John writes that Jesus knew that his hour had come. In John's Gospel, Jesus is very much in command and aware of all that is to happen to him.

Here, as elsewhere in John's Gospel, Mary is not mentioned by name, but is referred to instead as the mother of Jesus. Mary is influential in Jesus' first sign. She will also be present at his Crucifixion, a witness to the final manifestation of his divinity.

John's Gospel describes seven signs that indicate Jesus' identity to his disciples. John never speaks of these signs as miracles because their importance is not in the deed that Jesus performs but in what these deeds indicate about Jesus' identity. Here, as when John describes the other signs, the disciples are said to begin to believe, but no mention is made as to whether the other wedding guests are even aware of what has happened.

Marriage and wedding feasts are metaphors used in Scripture to describe God's salvation and the Kingdom of God. Here at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, John's Gospel seeks to establish that Jesus is going to re-interpret and fulfill Yahweh's promise to Israel. Jesus establishes the New Covenant. A hint about what this New Covenant will be like is made evident in the deed that Jesus performs. Asked to do something to address the awkward situation that the absence of wine at a wedding feast would create, Jesus' miracle produces vast quantities of wine—six jars holding thirty gallons each are filled to overflowing with choice wine.

This lavish response to a simple human need is a vision for us of the abundance of God's kingdom. It challenges us to respond generously when confronted with human need today. We respond as best we can, fully confident that God can transform our efforts, bringing the Kingdom of God to fulfillment among us.


Gospel Reading
John 2:1-11
Jesus performs his first sign at a wedding feast in Cana.


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

At the wedding at Cana, Mary saw a need and asked Jesus for help. As younger children become less self-focused, they are able to notice the needs of others. Support them in knowing that they can help others and ask God to care for the needs of all people.

Materials Needed

  • Puzzles with large pieces (one for every two or three children)

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Distribute the puzzles and have children work together to complete them. When children have finished, ask: How did you help each other complete the puzzle? (Answer all reasonable answers.)
  2. Say: Everyone needs help from time to time. As children of God, we are called to help those in need. When we see a need, we try to help. Today we’ll hear a story about Jesus and his mother, Mary. They go to a wedding. Listen carefully to hear what problem Mary sees at the wedding and how Jesus helps the people.
  3. Read today’s Gospel, John 2:1–11.
  4. Say: Mary notices that the people have run out of something. Ask: What did they run out of? (wine) Say: Mary asks Jesus to help. He tells the people to fill the jars with water. Ask: Then what does he do? (He turns the water into wine.) Say: The people have plenty of wine to drink. Jesus gives them more than they need. He teaches us that God is always with us and responds to our needs.
  5. Say: When we see a need, we can try to help. Ask: What are some ways you help your friends and family? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Say: We can pray for God to help others. Let’s take a moment to think of people who need God’s help. Keep them in your heart as we pray.
  6. Pray together that God will help all those in need. Invite children to pray with you, “Lord, hear our prayer. Amen.” 


Gospel Reading
John 2:1-11
Jesus performs his first sign at a wedding feast in Cana.


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

At the wedding feast at Cana, Mary observed the needs of the hosts and brought the concern to Jesus, confident that Jesus would respond. Older children are becoming more articulate about their own needs and the needs of others. We follow Mary's example when we observe and present these needs to God in prayer, confident that God answers our prayers in extraordinary ways.

Materials Needed

  • A missing-picture puzzle or a “What's wrong with this picture?” puzzle found in newspapers or children's magazines

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show a sample of a missing-picture puzzle or a “What's wrong with this picture?” puzzle that can be found in newspapers or children's magazines.

  2. Solve the puzzle together by identifying what's missing or what's wrong in the picture.

  3. Ask whether the children found this exercise easy or difficult. Ask: What skills are required to do this exercise well? (observation, attention to detail, the ability to imagine the whole picture)

  4. Say: In today's Gospel, we hear about a time when Jesus' mother, Mary, noticed that something was wrong and asked Jesus to help address the need.

  5. Read today's Gospel, John 2:1-11.

  6. Ask: What detail did Mary notice? (that there was no more wine to serve to the wedding guests) What did Mary do to respond to the problem she noticed? (She brought the concern to Jesus.) Why did Mary bring the problem to Jesus? (She knew that Jesus could do something to address the situation.) How did Jesus respond to the situation? (He changed the water into wine; he provided a tremendous amount of wine.)

  7. Say: Mary brought the need she saw to Jesus because she believed that Jesus could make the situation better. Jesus not only made things better for the hosts at the wedding feast. He used this as an opportunity to show us that God will respond to our needs and to the needs of our world in ways beyond our imagining.

  8. Ask: What situations of need do we observe in our lives today? What would make these situations better? How might we respond to the needs we see? How might God respond to make these situations better? Discuss various needs and responses that would improve the situation.

  9. Encourage the children to bring these needs to God in prayer and to ask God to help them respond to others' needs with generosity. Observe that God acts in our world in ways we can only begin to imagine. Conclude by praying together Saint Ignatius' Prayer for Generosity.


Gospel Reading
John 2:1-11
Jesus performs his first sign at a wedding feast in Cana.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

At the wedding feast at Cana, Mary observed a human need and presented it to Jesus, confident that Jesus would respond. We follow Mary's example when we bring our needs and the needs of our world to God in prayer, confident that God will answer our prayers in extraordinary ways.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the students to think about a time when their family entertained guests in their home. Ask: What kinds of details needed attention? Who attended to these details? Did any of your guests assist, perhaps by bringing food to share, or by assisting with dishes or other cleaning? (Accept all reasonable answers.) Observe that cooperation between the hosts and guests often makes such gatherings more enjoyable for everyone.

  2. Say: Today's Gospel tells about a time when Mary and Jesus were guests at a wedding feast and how Mary asked Jesus to help the hosts in a moment of need.

  3. Read today's Gospel, John 2:1-11.

  4. Ask: Who noticed the need of the hosts of the wedding feast? (Mary) What did she do? (She brought the concern to Jesus.) Why was Jesus hesitant to act? (He said it was not yet his time.) What was so extraordinary about what Jesus did? (He changed water to wine; he responded by providing a tremendous quantity of fine wine.)

  5. Say: The sign that Jesus performed at the wedding feast tells us about God's kingdom. We believe that the Kingdom of God will be like an extraordinary feast generously prepared for us by God. We are invited to participate in this kingdom. Mary serves as our model.

  6. Ask: What are some things we learn about our role in God's kingdom from Mary's actions in today's Gospel? (We can bring the needs we see to Jesus; we can present these needs, confident that God will help us respond in extraordinary ways.) What needs might we identify and bring to God today? What would be an extraordinary response to that need? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  7. Say: God responds to our needs and to the needs of our world in ways that are beyond anything that we can imagine. We follow Mary's example when we present these needs to God, confident that God will respond in extraordinary ways.

  8. Help the students write prayers of petition that name the needs they see today and model how we can present these needs to God with confidence. Pray these prayers of petition together. Conclude by praying together Saint Ignatius' Prayer for Generosity.


Gospel Reading
John 2:1-11
Jesus performs his first sign at a wedding feast in Cana.


Family Connection

Weddings are wonderful family celebrations. We go out of our way to make the occasion festive and extraordinary. People work hard to please one another. What better image of the Kingdom of God! Not every day is a wedding celebration, but we can anticipate the Kingdom of God each day in our attentiveness to one another's needs.

If your family has attended a wedding celebration together, talk about the experience and the planning and cooperation that made the celebration memorable. Talk about how weddings and feasts are images in Scripture for the Kingdom of God. Consider how these festive occasions are images of God's tremendous love for us and examples of how we can show our love for one another. Then read together today's Gospel, John 2:1-11. Talk about Mary's attentiveness to the needs of the hosts and about Jesus' response. What could your family learn from this story? Consider ways that you might show these values in your family's daily life. Pray together Saint Ignatius' Prayer for Generosity.