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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): Naming Jesus

(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.)


Matthew 16.13-20


In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus asks the disciples a strange question:

“who do you say that I am?”

The disciples have been travelling with him for a long time now. Of course they know who he is! Does Jesus think they have forgotten his name?


Peter answers, but he does not call him Jesus. Instead he names him this way:

“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Peter is saying who Jesus is, who he belongs to, and what he will do.


Who is Jesus?


Peter says Jesus is the Messiah. This means "Anointed One."


Anointed One? What does that mean?


To be anointed means to have oil poured over our body or rubbed into our skin. Oil is not like water. Water runs off our skin, but oil sinks in. It becomes part of who we are. When someone is anointed, not just any oil is used, but holy oil--oil that is filled with the presence of God. What could it mean for Jesus to have oil filled with the presence of God rubbed into his skin? How special must he be?


So special. Chosen by God. He has God with him. This is who he is.


Who does Jesus belong to?


Peter also says that Jesus is the Son of the living God. So we know who Jesus belongs to. He belongs to God; he is God's child; he is the Son of God. This is something the angel Gabriel says to Mary. Now Peter knows it, too. I wonder how could he know this?


What will Jesus do?


Peter says that Jesus is, "the Son of the living God."

The living God.

God who lives.

God who gives life.

God, whose life is so much stronger than death.


If Jesus belongs to the living God, what will he do?


We know that later in the Gospel Jesus will die on the cross but will rise to new life--never to die again. His life is the life of the living God! It is so much stronger than death.


(I wonder how Peter could know this before it ever happens?)


Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.


So Peter, in naming Jesus this way, tells us who Jesus is, who he belongs to, and what he will do. But I wonder if he also tells us a little more? I wonder if he tells us who we are, too.

Jesus is the Anointed One, chosen by God. But when we are baptized, holy oil is rubbed onto our head. Right on the top of our head, on the crown of our head, the special Christ Oil is rubbed in this shape:

We are anointed, too! We are also chosen by God, we also belong to the living God!

I wonder, what will we do?

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