2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A
6-9 year olds
(Adults, begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child, unless the child is a very fluent reader.)
The Gospel for this Sunday actually begins on the evening of the day that Jesus rises from the dead, so full of the Risen Life that he can never die again. Although Mary Magdalene knows that Jesus is Risen and has told the disciples, they are hiding in a house with all the doors locked. They are afraid.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Into their fear, Jesus comes. He shows them his wounds and they know it is truly him. Now they rejoice.
Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’
Jesus repeats himself. Twice he says, "Peace be with you." When Jesus repeats himself, we know we must pay close attention. He gives them peace, and then he sends them. What is this peace? What is he sending them to do?
Then Jesus does something kind of strange:
When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’
He breathes on them. In this time of pandemic, that seems especially strange. We are told not to breathe on other people, not to touch other people, to wash our hands carefully. We know that the virus can be spread in breath. We know about being contagious.
Doesn't Jesus know that he could be contagious? Why does he do this?
Let's think about what breath is. If we breathe, it means we are alive. Jesus breathes, so he is alive. He is not a ghost. We know, in fact, that we can only hold our breath for a short time, and then we have to breathe. We can even say that our breath is life. So, when Jesus breathes on the disciples, he is breathing his life on them. His Risen Life.
He makes his Risen Life contagious.
When he breathes on them he says, "Receive the Holy Spirit." So the Holy Spirit is his breath, is his Risen Life. Is contagious.
Jesus gives the disciples peace. He gives them his Risen Life. He gives them the Holy Spirit. And it is contagious.
Jesus sends the disciples. They go out and share that peace, that Risen Life, that Holy Spirit with others. And what do those people do? They share his peace, his Risen Life, his Holy Spirit with more people. Over and over. On and on. Across the world. All through time. Even to me. Even to you.
We are also sent.
When we gather at Mass, there is a special moment when we share a "Sign of Peace." Whose peace are we sharing? Of course, it is Jesus' peace! That same peace he shares with his disciples, he shares with us, and we share it with others.
It is contagious!
So, in this time of pandemic, when we are not able to go to Mass, can we still share the Peace of Christ? How can we do this? What will be the sign? What do you think?