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St Leonard Faith Community
Located on the grounds of St Leonard Senior Community
8100 Clyo Road
CENTERVILLE, OH
United States
Phone: 937-435-3626
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Sunday Connection

Sunday Connection
 

First Sunday of Advent, Cycle B

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Readings & Background

 


This Sunday’s Readings


First Reading
Isaiah 63:16b-17,19b;64:2-7
Isaiah prays for the Lord’s forgiveness of the people.

 

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19
A prayer for the Lord’s protection

 

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Paul gives thanks to God for the faith of the Corinthians.

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 13:33-37
Jesus warns his disciples to be watchful so that they will be ready when the Son of Man comes.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we begin the season of Advent, which marks the start of a new liturgical year for the Church. The readings for Sunday Mass are arranged on a three-year cycle. Each year features a different Gospel—Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Readings from the Gospel of John are interspersed throughout all three years. With this year’s first Sunday of Advent, we begin Cycle B of the Lectionary, which focuses our attention on the Gospel of Mark. This week and next week, our readings from Mark’s Gospel present two important Advent themes: the Lord’s return at the end of time and John the Baptist’s preparation for Jesus.

Today’s Gospel is taken from the end of Mark’s Gospel, the chapter that immediately precedes Mark’s account of Jesus’ Passion. Having been questioned repeatedly by the scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus is now questioned by his disciples—Peter, James, John, and Andrew—who want details about his prediction of the destruction of the Temple. Jesus answers with many warnings about the difficulties that the disciples will face.

Today’s passage comes at the conclusion of Jesus’ warnings to his disciples. Jesus emphasizes the need for watchfulness. The Son of Man will come without warning; only the Father knows the exact hour. The disciples must not be caught unprepared when this time comes.

Scholars believe that Mark’s Gospel was written around the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. Mark’s audience consisted of Christians who were living in difficult social and political times, times of conflict. They were likely beginning to face persecution as followers of Jesus. In this difficult time, it helped to recall that Jesus had foretold of such difficulties. Early Christian communities took courage from Jesus’ warning to remain alert and watchful, and they found in his words a way to persevere through suffering.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that Advent is about more than our preparation for the Church’s celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas. Advent is also about preparing ourselves for Christ’s return in glory at the end of time. Like the disciples and the faithful in Mark’s community, we must also stay alert and watchful. Our faithfulness to God, through the good times as well as the difficult times, shows us to be ready for the coming of the Son of Man.

 

Grades 1-3

 


Gospel Reading
Mark 13:33-37
Jesus warns his disciples to be watchful so that they will be ready when the Son of Man comes.


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

During the busy preparations for Christmas, young children can easily lose focus on the reason for our celebration. Advent reminds us of the importance of attending to our spiritual life so that we will be ready to receive Jesus when he comes again.

 

Materials Needed

  • An index card with a circle drawn near the right edge and a cross drawn approximately 3 inches to the left of the circle

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Prepare an index card as described above. Show the children the index card and tell them that the circle represents the earth. Ask if they know what the cross represents.

  2. Invite a volunteer to hold the index card about nine inches from his or her nose, close his or her right eye, look only at the “earth,” and tell the class what happens to the cross. The child may need to move the card closer or farther away. In the correct position, the cross will seem to disappear. Instruct the child to move the card closer and the cross will reappear. Permit any other children in the group who wish to try this to do so. Say: Only when we keep both eyes open are we able to see both the cross and the earth. It is important that we keep ourselves mindful and focused on Jesus, no matter what else is going on in our lives.

  3. Say: Jesus promised his disciples and us that he would return someday. But only God the Father knows when that day will be. When Jesus talked to his disciples about his return, he warned them to keep their eyes open because he would return suddenly. Let’s listen to what Jesus says to us about this in today’s Gospel.

  4. Read today’s Gospel, Mark 13:33-37.

  5. Say: Jesus wants us to be ready when he returns. What are some things that we might do to keep ourselves ready to receive Jesus? (daily prayer, reading Scripture, staying faithful to God’s commandments, and so on) During Advent we promise to do these things more faithfully so that we will be ready to receive Jesus when he comes again.

  6. Conclude in prayer together that we will use the season of Advent to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming. Read as a concluding prayer Paul’s words to the Corinthians found in today’s second reading, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, or pray the Lord’s Prayer.

 

Grades 4-6

 


Gospel Reading
Mark 13:33-37
Jesus warns his disciples to be watchful so that they will be ready when the Son of Man comes.


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

Well aware of the temptations of distractions and the danger of procrastination, older children can appreciate Jesus’ message of vigilance in anticipation of the coming of the Son of Man. We can remind them of the importance of prayer and faithfulness to God as ways to honor Jesus’ command to be alert and ready for his return in glory.

 

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the group to imagine the following situation: Your parent has instructed you to clean your room. Imagine that your room is really messy. Your parent will be inspecting your room in one hour and will expect it to be clean. What do you do? Allow time for the group to discuss. Point out that most of them would probably not procrastinate if they knew the deadline was imminent.

  2. Say: Now imagine this same situation with one minor change: You do not know when your parent will return to check on your room. Does this change how you will act after your parent leaves? If so, how? Allow time for the group to discuss the various possibilities.

  3. Say: Sometimes we act differently when we don’t have a deadline. Without a deadline, we often succumb to the temptation to procrastinate or to let ourselves be distracted by other things. Jesus warned his disciples that the coming of the Son of Man would be much like the second situation we considered. Let’s listen carefully to this warning found in today’s Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read Mark 13:33-37.

  5. Say: In today’s Gospel Jesus is responding to a question from his disciples about how they will know when the Son of Man, Jesus, will return in glory. What does Jesus tell them about when this will happen? (Only the Father knows when the Son of Man will return in glory.) Why do you think this is more like the second situation we discussed above? (The timeframe is unknown.) What does Jesus tell his disciples that they should do in the meantime? (They should be alert and watchful.)

  6. Say: During Advent, we do more than just prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Christ. The Church also wants us to remember that we must keep ourselves ready to receive Christ when he comes to us in our daily lives and at the end of time. Like the disciples, Jesus wants us to be watchful and alert so that we might recognize the signs of Christ in our midst. What are some things that we do to keep ourselves ready to receive Christ? (daily prayer, reading Scripture, staying faithful to God’s commandments, and so on)

  7. Conclude in prayer together that we will use the season of Advent to re-commit ourselves to being watchful and alert to the signs of Christ in our midst. Read as a concluding prayer Paul’s words to the Corinthians found in today’s second reading, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, or pray the Lord’s Prayer.

 

Grades 7-8

 


Gospel Reading
Mark 13:33-37
Jesus warns his disciples to be watchful so that they will be ready when the Son of Man comes.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Most young people know that during Advent we focus on actions that prepare us to welcome Christ in our celebration of Christmas. We can help them to understand that these same actions also help us to recognize Christ’s presence in the sacraments and in our daily lives and prepare us to welcome Christ when he returns in glory.

 

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pens

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the young people to imagine that they have been asked to plan a birthday party. Assign two groups. Tell the first group to prepare a list of things to do two weeks before the party (for example, determine the time and place, prepare the guest list, send invitations, choose a theme). Tell the second group to prepare a list of things to do 24 hours before the party (for example, bake the cake, decorate the room).

  2. Call the groups together and compare the two lists. Ask how the immediate preparations for a party are different from the advance preparations. Then ask if one set of activities is more important than the other. Say: In the hours before the party, we focus our attention and energy on getting things ready, but all that we previously did to prepare contributes to the party’s success too.

  3. Say: This Sunday we begin the Church season of Advent, when people focus their attention on preparing for the celebration of Christmas, which is just a few weeks away. However, the Gospel for this first Sunday of Advent makes no mention of the birth of Jesus. Let’s listen carefully to it.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read Mark 13:33-37.

  5. Ask volunteers to restate in their own words what Jesus tells his disciples.

  6. Say: Jesus tells his disciples that they must stay watchful and ready because they do not know when the Son of Man will return. This Sunday’s reading reminds us that Advent is not only about preparing for the celebration of Christmas but also about keeping ourselves ready to receive Christ when he comes to us in glory at the end of time. Like the disciples, we do not know when this will be. We, too, are called to be watchful and always ready.

  7. Ask: What are some things that we can do to stay alert and ready to welcome Christ when he returns in glory? (pray daily, read the Scripture, follow Jesus, keep the commandments, love and serve others) Observe that these same actions help us prepare to celebrate Christmas. They also help us to recognize Christ’s presence in the sacraments and in our daily lives. Encourage the young people to prepare their hearts to welcome Christ by engaging in one or more of these activities during Advent.

  8. Conclude by praying together the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 80, expressing hope for salvation and praying that we will always be ready to welcome Christ into our hearts.

 

 

Family

 


Gospel Reading
Mark 13:33-37
Jesus warns his disciples to be watchful so that they will be ready when the Son of Man comes.


Family Connection

In family life, we try to prepare ourselves for many future things: our next vacation, our children’s education, our retirement. We are careful not to allow ourselves to be caught by surprise so that we can handle any challenges our family may face. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we are called to be just as attentive and alert to the coming of the Son of Man so that it will not catch us unprepared. This means attending to our family’s spiritual life as carefully as we attend to other important family matters.

As you gather as a family, talk about a time when you received surprise visitors at your house, perhaps a neighbor who stopped by or a relative who arrived unannounced. Was your household prepared to receive this unannounced guest? What might your family have done differently if you knew ahead of time that this visitor was going to arrive? Jesus told his disciples that no one knows when the Son of Man will return, except the Father. Read with your family what Jesus told his disciples in today’s Gospel, Mark 13:33-37.

During Advent, we not only prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we also check to see if we are doing all the things that will keep us ready to receive Jesus when he comes again. Talk about how your family can recommit to daily prayer, reading Scripture, and staying faithful to God’s commandments. Pray together that through this Advent season your family will be more prepared to receive Jesus when he comes again. Read as a concluding prayer Paul’s words to the Corinthians found in today’s second reading, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, or pray the Lord’s Prayer.