(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
This Sunday is the seventh Sunday of the Easter season. For seven weeks, we celebrate in a special way, Jesus rising from the dead, never to die again. On this Sunday, we think about the moment when Jesus returns to God. He will be with his friends in a new way.
Jesus gathers his friends and says,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you
What does Jesus mean, "while I was still with you"? He is here with them right now. They can hear him. They followed him here. Maybe he means these are words he spoke while he was still like them, living his first life—before the cross, before rising from the dead never to die again.
What words does Jesus mean? The disciples are confused. They do not understand. What does Jesus do when his friends do not understand?
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures
The scriptures are the Bible—the Word of God. The Word of God is a mystery, but Jesus opens their minds to understand what is written.
What do they understand now?
and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day
Oh ho! Jesus has always known that he would die and rise to new life. It is a mystery that is written in the Word of God. Jesus understands this! He understands while he was still with them, and he understands now in this life that never ends. He opens the minds of the disciples so that they can understand, too. In the Word of God, they can hear him. Through the word of God, they can follow him here. He gives them this gift.
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them.
Jesus blesses them. We know about blessings. God is pleased with Jesus' friends. God is with them.
While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.
Jesus blesses them on the earth and continues to bless them even as he goes to God. Another gift! He blesses them while still with them and keeps blessing them in the life that never ends. The blessing goes on and on and on. Will the blessing ever end?
What do the disciples do with that blessing that goes on and on?
they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
Now the disciples bless, too! They bless God! They have been given gifts—both the Word of God and Jesus' blessing—and full of joy, they want to give God their own gift! Full of joy, they tell God how good, how great, how beautiful, how special God is. This is blessing God. This is praise.
What words do they say? What songs do they sing?
We do not know.
What do we know?
Jesus opens the minds of the disciples so that they may understand the Word of God. In the Word of God, they can hear him. Through the word of God, they can follow him here. He blesses them. We wonder, what about us? Does Jesus open our minds to understand the Word of God? Does Jesus bless us?
At our Baptism, there is a special blessing. The priest or deacon touches our ears and says, "receive the Word." What can this mean? Through our ears, into our minds—the Word of God enters into us! We receive the Word; it is given to us. Our minds are opened! It is a great gift. Just like the disciples, we, too, can understand the mysteries! We can hear him. We can follow him here.
The priest or deacon also touches our mouth. Why? What might we do with our mouth? What do the disciples do? We can bless God. We can praise.
What words do we say? What songs do we sing?