Ascension Sunday, Year A
3-6 year olds
(In Canada, on the 7th Sunday of Easter, we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus. Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, 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 after Jesus died and then rose to new life, never to die again, he spends 40 days appearing to his disciples. They talk with him, eat with him, and spend time rejoicing with him that his Risen life will never end. After 40 days, Jesus returns to his Father in heaven. We call this the Ascension into heaven. "Ascend" means to rise from a lower level to a higher level. Jesus has already risen from ordinary life on earth to the life that will never end, and on this day we celebrate his Risen life together with God. He seems to be leaving them, but he promises to be with them always.
Before he ascends into heaven, Jesus says,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”
Jesus gives the disciples something important to do. He wants them to make more disciples. He wants them to do this in all nations. Nations are countries. In many countries, the people speak different languages. I wonder how the disciples will be able to make disciples if they don't speak different languages?
Jesus tells them how to make disciples:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
Baptizing! Isn't that interesting? Jesus wants the disciples to baptize other people to make them disciples. We know that our parents wanted us to be baptized. They may even have thought that it was their idea to bring us to be baptized. But whose idea was it first?
We think a lot about our baptism. We know that we receive the Holy Spirit when the water that is filled with the Spirit is poured over our heads. We know that those same words are said, just as Jesus says them in the Gospel, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." We know that we are baptized into all of God.
But have we considered that baptism makes us disciples?
What is a disciple?
We hear that word a lot when we listen to the Word of God. The people who follow Jesus as he teaches about the Kingdom of God are called his "disciples." The people who stand on the mountain with him in this Sunday's Gospel are Jesus' disciples. Disciples are people who learn from someone, who follow someone.
We know something else about followers of Jesus.
“The Good Shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:3b-4)
Now we are told that we become disciples of Jesus when we are baptized. We are followers of Jesus because Jesus wants it that way.
“And remember, I am with you always”
No wonder he promises to be with them always--the Good Shepherd is always together with his sheep!