(Adults, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, the disciples start to fight! They are like brothers and sisters who argue and squabble. Their parents are not around to make them stop. Jesus has to show them what is important. Before this happens, though, before they start to fight, Jesus tries to teach them something important.
Jesus was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.”
Jesus wants the disciples to understand that he will die, but he will rise to new life, never to die again. We already know this, but the disciples do not.
But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
The disciples just do not get it. We wonder why they are afraid to ask Jesus questions. What do the angels always say? "Do not be afraid." We are not afraid to ask Jesus questions. Instead, the disciples start arguing.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when Jesus was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.
Now, when Jesus asks the disciples a question they do not answer. They have stopped talking to him. That cannot be good.
What have they been arguing about?
Who is the greatest. Who is the best. Who is most important.
We know who the greatest is!
We know who the best is!
We know who the most important is!
We seem to know more than the disciples.
What does Jesus do when the disciples do not ask questions, when they stop talking to him, when they argue about who is the greatest?
He sat down
The disciples are standing but Jesus is sitting. Now Jesus is smaller than any of them. They have to look down to see him.
he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms
Jesus sits on the floor and wraps his arms around this child. Jesus looks at the child and the child looks at Jesus. They are together on the floor, both of them small, face to face. They are so close to each other.
Jesus said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
What does welcome mean? If we welcome someone, we make them feel comfortable with us. They know that we are glad that they have come.
When we come to the church to be baptized, the priest meets our family at the door. The priest welcomes us and then, with his thumb, makes this on our foreheads:
We know what this is! It is a cross. When we see a cross, we think of Jesus. The cross is Jesus' sign. When we are welcomed into the church, we are welcomed with the sign of the cross. We are welcomed in Jesus' name.
Jesus says that anyone who welcomes a child in his name, welcomes him. When the priest welcomes us to the church, the priest welcomes Jesus.
Jesus says that welcoming children welcomes Jesus AND ALSO welcomes the One who sends Jesus. Who could that be? We know it is God. When the priest welcomes us to the church, the priest welcomes God.
Jesus knows how important children are! When we step into the church, when we are made to feel comfortable there, when we know they are glad we have come, who steps in with us? The church needs children so that God is welcomed there.