24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): The Anointed One
(Adults, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
We know that people are always curious about Jesus. They gather around him to hear what he says. No one speaks the way he does. People wonder, who is this? They know his name is Jesus, but they always want to know more. In the gospel for this Sunday, it is Jesus who wonders. Jesus wonders what the people know about him. What do they think?
Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
Wow. The people have got it wrong. Jesus is not John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. These are all people who listen to God. They are all people who tell everyone what they have heard God say. They are very good people, but they are not Jesus. Jesus is more.
Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Now it is the disciples' turn. Jesus wants to know what they know about him. The disciples have followed Jesus for a long time. They travel everywhere with him and listen to him everyday. What do they know? What do they say?
Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”
The Messiah. That word feels good in our mouths. It sounds good to our ears. But what does it mean?
"Messiah" means the Anointed One. Someone who is anointed has holy oil rubbed onto their head. The oil has a beautiful smell; it smells like heaven. Everyone around breathes in deeply. Who do they know is near?
One who is anointed is chosen by God for something important. What is Jesus chosen to do?
Then he began to teach them...
Jesus tells his disciples what he is anointed to do. He is anointed to give all of himself, to die on the cross and to rise to new life, never to die again. We know this is who Jesus is. He is the Messiah, the One who has died and who is Risen.
What else do we know? We also know that Jesus does not keep this Risen life all to himself. He shares it with us at our Baptism. We are given a candle lit from his great Paschal candle. The light of his Risen life, Jesus gives to us.
Here is something else that happens at our Baptism. The priest or deacon opens a container of holy oil that is filled with a beautiful smell. It smells like heaven. Everyone around breathes in deeply. Who do they know is near?
The holy oil has a name; it is called the oil of Chrism. Chrism means it belongs to Christ. Christ is another word for Messiah. It is the same word in a different language. This is the Messiah's oil.
The priest or deacon dips his thumb into the Messiah's oil and rubs it onto our head. We are anointed! We are chosen, too! We wonder what we are anointed to do. We breathe in deeply. We know who is near.