13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
3-6 year olds
(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
Last Sunday we heard Jesus preparing his disciples to go out to tell people about the Kingdom of God. We remember that disciples are people who follow Jesus and learn from him. Now he wants them to go out to teach more people, so that those people can learn, too. I wonder if the disciples think their teaching won't be good enough. I wonder if they think that it won't be the same as listening to Jesus teach. In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus speaks to the disciples about this concern.
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”
Welcoming someone means to be friendly to someone who comes to your home. It means to make them feel comfortable in your home because it is a friendly place to be. Jesus says, whoever welcomes the disciples welcomes him. When people are friendly to them, when people make the disciples feel comfortable in their home, they are making Jesus feel comfortable there, too. Not only that, he says, but the one who sent Jesus will also feel comfortable in that home, too. Who is the one who sent Jesus? We know that it is God. God is welcomed when Jesus is welcomed, and Jesus is welcomed when the disciples are welcomed.
What a wonderful thought! God feels comfortable in a home when someone welcomes a disciple! What a gift that would be! The gift of God feeling comfortable with you.
When the disciples are concerned about teaching, Jesus talks about welcoming. I wonder if the Kingdom of God is not about teaching, but about feeling at home. We feel at home when we are welcomed, when people are friendly, when we feel we belong. We belong to the people we know.
We have heard Jesus speak about knowing his sheep.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. (John 10:14-15)
It's all about knowing, isn't it? The sheep feel welcomed by Jesus. They are comfortable with him. They know Jesus, and Jesus knows God, so the sheep know God, too, don't they? If people know the disciples, they know Jesus, too, because the disciples know Jesus. Not only that, but they all know God, too.
But the disciples wonder how do people welcome? Jesus says,
whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
A cup of cold water to these little ones... Who are these little ones? Do we know anyone who is little? Do we know anyone who lives with people who are all bigger than they are?
I don't know what you think, but I think Jesus is speaking about you. Could it be?
When someone gives you a cup of cold water, is this a way for them to make Jesus feel welcome in their home? They won't lose their reward, Jesus says. Does that mean they receive the gift of God feeling comfortable with them?
How good it is for them that you are here! They need you, so that they can welcome Jesus! God needs you so that God can feel comfortable in everyone's home.