5th Sunday of Easter, Year A
9-12 year olds
(Begin by reading the Gospel. Sometimes it is good to have someone read it to you. The Word is meant to be heard.)
Unlike the other Gospels, St. John's Gospel records a great long conversation Jesus has with his disciples at the Last Supper. It seems that before he dies and rises to new life, Jesus wants his disciples to think deeply both about who he is, and about who they are because of him.
Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to prepare a place for them in his Father's house. They are not to be troubled, because they will join him there. He says,
‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’
The disciples struggle to understand what this means. It is a little worrying, because Jesus talks about coming to the Father through him. They know Jesus, but God? Jesus may call God "Father," but the disciples do not feel that they know God in the same way.
And now Jesus tells them something that changes everything:
‘If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’
The disciples have seen Jesus. They know him by their own eyes. They know him more importantly, by having spent so much time with him. But it is their senses that they trust. Because they have seen him, they know him.
But God is not visible; God cannot be seen. So what can Jesus mean?
Jesus asks them,
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
Jesus is not just "close to" God, Jesus is in God and God is in Jesus. So much so, that,
The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works
When Jesus speaks, it is God speaking. God lives in Jesus. So if they know Jesus, who they can see, they also know God, who they cannot see. They know the invisible because of the visible.
When we know an invisible mystery because of a visible--or touchable, or smell-able, or taste-able--sign, we call that a sacrament. Jesus is telling his disciples that he is the sacrament of God. They know God, he says, because they know him.
What about us, then? We are a little more removed, aren't we? We cannot see Jesus the Christ like the disciples do. We cannot know him with our senses, can we?
Or can we?
In the sacrament of Baptism, do we not feel Christ in the water filled with the Holy Spirit poured over our heads?
In the sacrament of Confirmation, do we not smell Christ in the oil filled with the Holy Spirit slathered on our foreheads?
In the sacrament of the Eucharist, do we not see and touch and taste Christ in the bread that has become his body for us?
And, in the Word of God, which is read at each and all of the sacraments, do we not hear the voice of Christ?
Through the sacraments, we know Christ, and through Christ, we know God.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
Greater works than Jesus?
Greater works than the sacrament of God?
Here is our work. We have been given our task.
The world cannot see Jesus, but the world can see us.
The world cannot hear Jesus, but the world can hear us.
The work of building the kingdom of God, the work that Jesus does in the Gospels, is handed on to us.
Jesus gives us the task of being sacrament to the world.