(Adults, the reflection this week is open-ended and invites the children into some work--perhaps drawing a picture of who they understand Jesus to be. The youngest children may not articulate their understanding, but can contemplate while they work with their hands. The prompt is "Jesus says, I AM..., but you could change this to, "I AM the..."
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.)
For several Sundays, we have heard about Jesus and his friends travelling about the land of Israel. In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus and his friends return to Jesus' hometown of Nazareth. This is the place where people should know Jesus best. They remember him from when he was an ordinary child growing up.
On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded.
The Sabbath is Saturday, the holy day for the Jewish people. Jesus teaches in the synagogue, which is a place for prayer. The people of his home town are astounded when they hear him teach. "Astounded" means they are greatly surprised! We wonder why they are so surprised. What is surprising them?
They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him?
The people seem surprised by Jesus' words. He speaks with wisdom. Wisdom means seeing life the way God sees life. God speaks with wisdom. If Jesus speaks like God, who is he?
The people know Jesus; they remember him from when he was little. They have heard his words many time before, but now he speaks differently. He used to speak in an ordinary way. Now, he speaks with wisdom. Jesus is more than they remember. They wonder about him.
What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?”
The people seem fascinated by Jesus' hands. They are surprised by "deeds of power" that he has done with them. We wonder what the people mean. Perhaps they have heard that Jesus' hands have made sick people well again. If Jesus heals the sick, who is he?
The people know Jesus; they remember him as a carpenter, someone who works with his hands to make things. This is a very useful job; it is also very ordinary. Many people make things with their hands. We make things with our hands, too.
Jesus makes things with his hands, but now he also makes people well. Jesus is more than they remember.
The people ask themselves many questions. They seem very confused. Jesus is the same person they have always known, but he also seems different. He is ordinary, and he is more. They ask themselves many questions about who Jesus is. It seems that the question they really want to ask is, "Who are you, Jesus?" They ask themselves, but they never ask him.
We wonder if Jesus is waiting for them to ask. What would he say? If the people ask Jesus, who are you, what more would he tell them?
Maybe we know. Perhaps we could work with our hands to show what Jesus would say. Jesus says, I AM...